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July 2022 E-News

The end of June was a whirlwind for the disarmament community. The diplomatic process led by Ireland to develop commitments against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas concluded with the adoption of a strong political declaration. States then met in Austria for the Fourth Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons and the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, where they adopted a groundbreaking Declaration and Action Plan. Finally, the Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapons held its final informal virtual meetings and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons convened its Eighth Biennial Meeting of States.

Across all these forums, the urgency of disarmament and demilitarisation is clear. Yet these meetings took place against a backdrop of nuclear threats, multiple armed conflicts, rising military spending, and unrelenting arms trading and war profiteering. The agreements reached by governments at the global level are being overshadowed by the prioritisation of power and profits over people and planet. This must end. The risks of nuclear war, climate change, and global injustice and inequality are ravaging our world, and only those committed to peace and disarmament can change this course, by working together in determination and solidarity. 

In this edition:

Upcoming disarmament meetings

Autonomous weapons Group of Governmental Experts

On 25–29 July, the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on autonomous weapon systems  will meet for its second formal session of 2022. Participants will focus on making recommendations for the meeting of high contracting parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which should be aimed at advancing the development of a normative and operational framework on autonomous weapons. Subscribe to the CCW Report for more coverage.

UN cyber working group

The third substantive session of the UN's second Open-ended Working Group (OEWG II) on developments in the field of ICTs in the context of international security will take place in-person from 25–29 July 2022 in New York. The aim of the third session will be to adopt an interim progress report, which also proposes areas of focus for future OEWG II sessions. A Zero Draft was circulated in late June and has undergone one round of informal consultations by member states. An updated version will be released just ahead of the session.

While this is the first substantive session of the OEWG II in which accreditation for civil society has been possible, member states did issue objections against a total of 32 organisations and entities that had applied to participate (approximately one-third of the total applicants).

Civil society is invited to participate in a virtual consultation organised by the Chair, Ambassador Gafoor of Singapore, on 21 July. Organisations participating in the formal session can additionally deliver statements and interventions as part of an in-person stakeholder meeting on Wednesday, 27 July. Interventions should correspond to guiding questions provided by the Chair. Throughout the week there will be a range of side events, in New York and online.

WILPF will additionally provide monitoring and reporting through its Cyber Peace & Security Monitor (subscribe here) and is posting statements, documents, and written submissions on its OEWG II resource page. Further information is available on the UNODA Meetings Place page and you can follow the action on Twitter at #UNCyberOEWG.

2022 NPT Review Conference

The Tenth Review Conference (RevCon) of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is scheduled to take place from 126 August 2022 in New York. You can find further information about civil society participation, in addition to conference documents, working papers, and national reports at the Reaching Critical Will website. We are also posting information about side events, whether virtual or in-person. Subscribe to the NPT News in Review to receive reports and analysis from the RevCon. Also check out our updated version of the 2022 NPT briefing book, which has background information and recommendations on all the critical issues facing NPT states parties.

Eighth Conference of States Parties to the ATT

The Eighth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (CSP8) will take place in Geneva from 22–26 August 2022. You can access conference documents and other resources on our website or on the website of the ATT Secretariat. RCW will not publish an ATT Monitor during the CSP8 but will post the daily summaries of other organisations. To catch up on what happened during the 2021 CSP7, review the final edition of our ATT Monitor

Recently concluded disarmament meetings

Fourth Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons convenes in Vienna

The Austrian government convened the fourth conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (HINW) in Vienna on 20 June 2022, one day before the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). As noted by Izumi Nakamitsu, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, this fourth conference follows in the proud tradition of the first three HINW conferences, which led ultimately to the negotiation and adoption of the TPNW in 2017. You can read our full report online.

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons meeting of states parties

The First Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) met from 2123 June 2022 in Vienna, Austria. On the final day of the meeting, states parties adopted a strong Declaration and Action Plan that set out a roadmap for the treaty's implementation and universalisation. For more details, check out statements, documents, and our reports and analysis from the conference.

Consultations on explosive weapons declaration

The final round of consultations for a political declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from Humanitarian Harm arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas took place in Geneva on 17 June 2022. After three years of negotiations led by the government of Ireland, which included five rounds of consultations, states have agreed to a final text. For more information on what states discussed during the meeting, you can check our report.

Third virtual informal discussion of the GGE on autonomous weapons systems

On 27 and 29 June, the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on autonomous weapon systems (AWS) convened the third and final informal, virtual intersessional discussion. This round of informal discussions focused on the topics of risk identification and assessment, mitigation measures, and good practices relating to human-machine interaction (HMI). These informal talks are in preparation for the GGE's second formal session to be held 2529 July 2022 in Geneva. If you want to learn more about what was discussed, you can read our CCW Report.

Eighth Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (BMS8)

The Eighth Biennial Meeting of States (BMS8) to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA) was convened at the United Nations in New York City from 27 June – 1 July 2022. RCW included on its website the daily summaries of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), of which WILPF is a member. In the lead up to the BMS8, IANSA published a series of briefing papers on core UNPoA topics, including the paper “Six Key Issues for the Eighth Biennial Meeting of States (BMS8) on the UN Programme of Action,” which is also available on our website.

WILPF and the Gender Equality Network for Small Arms Control (GENSAC) co-hosted a side event on 28 June that explored masculinities and small arms violence, building on a recent joint publication from the two organisations. The event themed "Linkages between men, masculinities, and small arms" hosted Dr. Mia Schob and Dr. Myrttinen, co-authors of the publication, along with civil society leaders Mr. Alejandro Marcias from Colombia and Mr. Guy Feugap from Cameroon. You may watch the recording of the side event here.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) turns five!

On 7 July 2017 the majority of the world’s nations voted to adopt the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In the five years since, 86 countries have already signed the treaty and 66 have ratified it, with Malawi, Cabo Verde, Grenada, and Timor-Leste being the most recent ratifying states. In addition to these states, over 2000 elected officials and 500 cities around the world have called on the governments that have yet to sign and ratify the treaty to do so urgently. (Image credit: WILPF)

As the treaty banned investments in nuclear weapons, we have seen major financial institutions divesting from the companies producing nuclear weapons. Just last month, during the First Meeting of States Parties to the treaty, the Italian financial institution Etica funds, the asset manager for Banca Etica, delivered a statement reinforcing the role of the sector in helping to bring about a nuclear weapons free world. The 37 investors who signed the statement come from a list of states that includes Australia, Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the US - most of them countries that haven’t yet gotten on board with the ban treaty. As stated by Susi Snider, from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “It shows there is a willingness to use their power and influence to further stigmatise nuclear weapons, and encourage action to make all weapons of mass destruction less desirable.”

Another welcome development in the efforts to abolish nuclear weapons was the conference for parliamentarians on the TPNW. Nearly 30 Parliamentarians from sixteen countries met on the eve of the 1MSP and agreed to redouble the efforts to increase membership of the Treaty and discussed a joint action plan for further collaboration. Parliamentarians are invited to join by signing onto the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge. (Picture credit: Alexander Papis for ICAN)

If you want to learn more about efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and possible ways to get involved, you can check the ICAN website!

New resources on nuclear weapons out now

New interactive resource to discover the histories of nuclear weapons testing

The Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) recently launched a new website with an interactive map that can provide an overview about the impacts of nuclear weapons use and testing of the over 2000 nuclear weapons detonated since 1945, featuring dozens of survivor testimonies and stories of their activism for justice.  

For example, you can learn about the story of Dr. Enver Thoti Bughda, a medical surgeon and Uyghur rights activist from Xinjiang China, or listen to the stories of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, who are fighting for restitution for the harm they suffered from the Trinity Nuclear Tests in New Mexico, US, or even watch the stories of people affected by the nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States in the Marshall Islands. 

Moreover, the website also answers the most important questions about nuclear weapons testing, including how many nuclear weapons have been used or tested and how the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons addresses the legacies of nuclear weapons testing and use. ICAN hopes this resource will be useful to dive more into the stories of survivors, and pass these stories on.

New report addresses nuclear submarines' threat to global non-proliferation regime

A new report released by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Australia critiques the Australian government's proposal to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines and proposes closure of the loophole in safeguards under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that would be exploited for the plan to go ahead. 

Troubled Waters: nuclear submarines, AUKUS and the NPT contains writing by Australian and international safeguards, non-proliferation and legal experts including: Tariq Rauf, Former Head of Verification and Security Policy Coordination at the International Atomic Energy Agency; Trevor Findlay, Australian safeguards expert, University of Melbourne - on how the acquisition of nuclear submarines would undermine Australia's safeguards credentials; and Muhadi Sugiono, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia, on the Indonesian and other southeast Asian responses and possible interventions at the upcoming NPT Review Conference to be held at UN headquarters in New York from 1-26 August 2022.

This issue will be raised by concerned states and civil society organisations including ICAN at the tenth NPT Review Conference next month. Read the report here.

2021 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending Report

The Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) launched in June the report “Squandered: 2021 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending”, which features the spending of the nine nuclear armed states on their arsenals, the companies that profited, and the lobbyists hired to keep nuclear weapons in business. The report demonstrates that in 2021, despite the covid-19 pandemic and the rise of global food insecurity, these states spent $82.4 billion on nuclear weapons. This represents an inflation-adjusted increase of $6.5 billion from 2020. 

Through the analysis of contracts, annual reports and lobby disclosures, the report shows a dozen companies got $30.2 billion in new contracts to work on nuclear weapons. Those companies also spent $117 million lobbying decision makers to spend more money on defence, in addition to spending up to $10 million funding most of the major think tanks that research and write about policy solutions on nuclear weapons. You can access the full report here.

New paper on intersectionality and nuclear weapons

Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security released Notes on Nuclear Weapons & Intersectionality in Theory and Practice, a working paper by RCW’s Director Ray Acheson, a Visiting Researcher at the Program. The Working Paper seeks to foster a conversation on how dismantling nuclear weapons requires dealing not just with the bomb but also the political, economic, and cultural scaffolding—institutional, social, intellectual, psychological and at the level of identities—that have facilitated its existence for seventy-seven years.

Acheson argues that a critique of nuclear weapons in the locations and with the language of nuclear weapon proponents may serve to help achieve reductions in nuclear stockpiles, better regulate arms races, and dampen proliferation concerns initiatives. It will not get us to abolition. The Working Paper proposes instead an engagement with ideas about power, violence, and privilege and the concepts of intersectionality and solidarity to create a different approach, one that is more open to nuclear abolition.

In this radically intersectional perspective, Acheson suggests beginning by asking foundational questions: who gets to be heard in debates about nuclear weapons; who gets to change discourse; and, who gets to have any kind of influence over normative thinking, and how can we rethink our relationships to existing institutions of power and authority?

Acheson proposes the struggle to understand and abolish nuclear weapons could benefit from the many other perspectives and experiences contesting and rebelling against current hegemonic systems of thought. The paper points in particular to the critical scholarship and activist strategies challenging social ordering and logics of knowledge production being undertaken by feminist, queer, indigenous, antiracist, and postcolonial struggles. The Working Paper ends with a final reflection that the struggle against nuclear weapons—as a movement and a goal—can be more effective, more reflective and inclusive, and more supportive of other social justice work if it locates itself at the intersection of and in solidarity with other current abolitionist projects.

New resources on explosive violence and casualty recording

Action on Armed Violence has recorded 114 incidents of explosive violence across 17 countries from 1 to 8 July 2022, as indicated by the explosive violence monitor. Based on incident-specific English-language reporting, AOV reported 583 casualties – 79% of them civilians. The most affected countries for civilian casualties of explosive violence this week were Ukraine, Yemen, and Syria. 

The effects of explosive violence were also addressed by UNICEF in a recent report entitled 25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war”. The report is based on 16 years of data from the Secretary General’s report on children and armed conflict, and seeks to show the devastating impact that war has had on children over time, including violations such as abduction, recruitment, killing and maiming. The report also provides recommendations encouraging all stakeholders to intensify their actions to enhance the protection of children living in situations of armed conflict, including the UNSG’s long-standing call on parties to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas when they have wide area effects, and calls on states to adopt the political declaration recognizing “that a failure to limit their use is a failure to protect children living in armed conflicts”. The complete report is available here.

Additionally, the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) has recently published a paper called “A primer on civilian harm mitigation in urban operations”, which seeks to contribute to discussions on a comprehensive approach to protecting civilians in urban operations. Based on conflicts in Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq, Nigeria, Philippines, Syria, Somalia, Ukraine, and Yemen, as well as in interviews with civilians, armed actors, humanitarian organisations, this paper offers options for “governments and militaries to adapt their policies, practices and training for urban operations in order to understand the challenges of urban war, foresee risks to civilians and civilian objects, and undertake measures to mitigate civilian harm.”The full report is available here.

If you want to know more about the impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, you can check the podcast “After the Bombing”, released by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW). In the latest episode, INEW’s Coordinator, Laura Boillot, and Steering Committee members, including Bonnie Docherty (Human Rights Watch) and Cesar Jaramillo (Project Ploughshares), discuss and share views on the final draft of the political declaration negotiated by states. If you have missed previous episodes, you can access them on INEW’s website as well as Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify and Amazon Music.

Stop Killer Robots launches parliamentary pledge against autonomous weapons systems

In order to support momentum towards an international treaty that rejects the automation of killing and ensures meaningful human control over the use of force, the Stop Killer Robots cCampaign has launched a parliamentary pledge. The campaign calls upon parliamentarians around the world to take this pledge and encourage governments to begin negotiations on an international treaty on autonomous weapon systems. If you want to take action against autonomous weapons systems, you can contact your political representative and ask them to endorse the parliamentary pledge. More information on this can be found here.

The peace that is not: Understanding why peacebuilding has failed in Bosnia and Herzegovina

WILPF launched a wide-ranging analysis and discourse project named The Peace That is Not, in which Nela Porobić and Gorana Mlinarević co-authored a collection of nine essays challenging the misconception that Bosnia and Herzegovina is destined for dysfunction and internal tensions and highlights that the problems faced there today are global and systemic in nature, easily repeated on sites of other conflicts. The authors argue that the failures of peacebuilding efforts in the region are reflective of the wider problems inherent to the way international multilateral organisations understand peace.  

The nine essays will be accessible through a new microsite where activists and practitioners, local and international communities, academics and interested parties can read about peacebuilding efforts in BiH and use it as a platform for discussions about peacebuilding in general. If you want to know more about the project, you can also check this webinar organised by WILPF with the Authors. 

Human Rights Council adopts resolution on firearms spotlighting responsibility of arms producers and dealers 

At its recently concluded 50th regular session (Geneva, 13 June – 8 July), the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted without a vote draft resolution A/HRC/50/L.12 on “human rights and the regulation of civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms”, which is the fifth HRC resolution on this topic. In a welcome development, the resolution has a focus on manufacturers and dealers of firearms and, among other things, calls upon “States to consider adopting requirements for manufacturers and dealers of firearms based on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which include the responsibility to avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts, preventing or mitigating human rights abuse, and the responsibility to conduct human rights due diligence.” As WILPF has noted in a statement to the HRC, “the reference to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights is a step in the right direction in reminding states and companies that arms producers and dealers have responsibilities to conduct robust human rights due diligence. Human rights due diligence covers not only the way the arms are used by third parties, but also companies’ responsibilities for marketing strategies targeting children and youth. Human rights responsibilities of companies exist over and above compliance with national laws and regulations.” 

The resolution also requests OHCHR to prepare a “report on effective national regulations, policies and good practices, challenges and lessons learned to address the negative human rights impact of civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms and underlying root causes and risk factors driving the availability of firearms and firearms-related violence, including contributions from business enterprises on measures adopted in this regard and their relationship with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”, which will be presented to the HRC’s 53rd regular session (June 2023). OHCHR is expected to issue a call for contributions from civil society organisations and other experts to this report.  

WILPF was actively engaged in advocacy on this resolution, working closely with the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) in Geneva. Our organisations, in collaboration with other civil society organisations, have been drawing attention to the human rights responsibility of arms producers. For example, WILPF has done so in its submission to OHCHR for the 2022 report on “civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms by children and youth” and in a submission to UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights for its project on Business, Human Rights and Conflict-affected Contexts. 

The draft resolution was cosponsored by more than 20 states, including Austria, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Ecuador, Greece, Honduras, Ireland Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Montenegro, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Uruguay. Ecuador and Peru were the main sponsors. The United States joined consensus on the resolution which is the first time the US has done so, as previous resolutions on the topic that were adopted by consensus occurred when the US was not a member of the HRC. Resolutions on the topic adopted while the US was an HRC member were adopted by vote, with the US requesting the vote. You can watch the proceedings of the adoption of the resolution, including the statements delivered by Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, and the US, here.

Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month

Feminist interrogations of global nuclear politics” is a colection of articles published on the Volume 98, Issue 4 of the International Affairs, a journal created and edited by Chatham House. The guest editors argue that feminist International Relations scholarship on the global nuclear order and its discontents should be revitalised, in ways that reckon more fully with colonial legacies. 

The publication contains articles on several topics related to feminism and nuclear weapons, such as: the gendered effects of uranium mining and nuclear waste dumping on North American Indigenous women; the feminist-Gandhian ethic as an alternative to nuclearism; a comparison between the masculine performances of Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis; a feminist study of Swedish nuclear history has the potential to disrupt the belief that disarmament is the policy of the weak; an examination of the NPT and gender sensitive approaches to nuclear weapons policy; an analysis of the gendered early visualizations of the atomic age in Egypt; and the role of pacific women's antinuclear poetry as a transformative mover of international discourse on nuclear imperialisms.

Upcoming events

Conferences

Second session of the CCW GGE on autonomous weapon systems
25–29 July 2022 | Geneva, Switzerland

Third substantive session of the UN's second Open-ended Working Group (OEWG II) on ICTs
25–29 July 2022 | New York, USA

10th Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
1–26 August 2022 | New York, USA

Eighth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (CSP8) 
22–26 August 2022 | Geneva, Switzerland

Webinars

WILPF Workshop on Killer Robots
19 July |Online (for WILPF members only)

International Peace & Planet Network Conference
30 July |New York, and online

Featured news

UN urges states to resume cooperation under the JCPOA

Together with the UN Secretary-General, the UN political affairs chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, urged Iran and the US to “quickly mobilise” in “spirit and commitment” to resume cooperation under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). They appealed to the United States to lift its sanctions, as outlined in the Plan, and extend oil trade waivers. Together they also called on Iran to reverse the steps it has taken that are inconsistent with its nuclear-related commitments under the Plan.

The discussions around restoring the JCPOA escalated on 8 June, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors approved a resolution after Iran’s failure to provide technically credible answers for the presence of undeclared uranium at three locations in the country. Iran retaliated by disconnecting 27 IAEA cameras, which led the agency’s Director-General to declare that the gap in monitoring would be a “fatal blow” to efforts to restore the nuclear deal within 3-4 weeks. 

France, Germany, and the United Kingdom urged Iran to conclude the deal to restore the JCPOA. The countries’ June 9 statement said that Iran’s “actions will only aggravate the situation and complicate our efforts to restore full implementation of the JCPOA.”  The United States said in a June 14 press briefing that the country is prepared to “immediately conclude and implement the deal we negotiated in Vienna” but for that to happen “Tehran needs to decide to drop demands that go beyond the scope of the JCPOA.” This was likely a reference to Iran’s demand that the US remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the foreign terrorist organisation designation list, the remaining issue that has held up negotiations for the past several months.  

Recent developments in the war in Ukraine

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, delivered a statement at the Human Rights Council arguing that “the high numbers of civilian casualties in Ukraine and the extent of destruction caused to civilian infrastructure continued to raise significant concerns that attacks conducted by Russian armed forces were not complying with international humanitarian law.” 

As of 3 July, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has documented over 10,000 civilian deaths or injuries across Ukraine, with 335 children among the 4,889 documented as killed. However, the actual figures are likely to be much higher. “Most of the documented civilian casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas”, said Ms. Bachelet, and “Shelling from heavy artillery, such as multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes, including weapons that can carry cluster munitions, were used repeatedly”. 

In a new report, Amnesty International found that hundreds of civilians have been killed in Kharkiv, Ukraine, by indiscriminate Russian shelling using widely banned cluster munitions and inherently inaccurate rockets. You can access the report here.

New resource for monitoring the harm to civilians from cyberattacks 

The Cyber Peace Institute has recently launched its Cyber Attacks in Times of Conflict Platform #Ukraine. With the aim of monitoring the harm to civilians from cyberattacks in the quest for cyberpeace, this Platform builds upon and broadens the Timeline of Cyberattacks in Ukraine which has been maintained by the Institute since February 2022, and now includes attacks against not only Ukraine but also the Russian Federation and other countries impacted by attacks linked to this armed conflict.    

In addition to aggregating data on cyberattacks against critical infrastructure and civilian objects, the Platform presents a breakdown of attacks by the different sectors affected such as telecommunications, energy, and transport, among others. It outlines the impact and harm of these attacks, to understand how cyberattacks and operations affect civilians. The Platform also enables users to identify – where attribution was made – the threat actor who deployed the attack, as well as an analysis of the relevant laws and norms. 

New policy on anti-personnel landmines announced by the United States 

On 21 June 2022, the United States announced a new policy on anti-personnel landmines (APL). In its announcement, the government stated that it was “committing to limit the use of anti-personnel landmines (APL)” reflecting “the President’s belief that these weapons have disproportionate impact on civilians, including children, long after fighting has stopped, and that we need to curtail the use of APL worldwide.” The policy bans the transfer, development, production or acquisition of anti-personnel landmines, and states the United States will "Not assist, encourage, or induce anyone, outside of the context of the Korean Peninsula, to engage in any activity that would be prohibited by the Ottawa Convention". Experts say that while the policy is a welcome announcement, it is only the first step in aligning the United States with the vast majority of governments in the world on the use of these weapons.

Russia calls for formal consultative meeting within the Biological Weapons Convention

Biological Weapons Convention States Parties were notified last Friday that Russia has triggered Article V and called for a formal consultative meeting (FCM) to present its case that the United States is in breach of the convention. For the first time since 1997, when the Cuban government accused the United States of spraying its country with a crop-eating bug called Thrips palmi in 1997, a Biological Weapons Convention member is invoking a special procedure to investigate alleged violations of the treaty. Experts say that “the move to trigger Article V of the bioweapons treaty represents a significant escalation of Russia’s efforts to promote claims of illegal US “biolabs” ringing its borders.”The meeting to hear Russian allegations and the US response will likely take place between July and August 2022.

Sweden’s agreement with Turkey in order to join NATO raises concerns over arms exports

WILPF Sweden has recently questioned the government's agreement with Turkey in order to secure Swedish NATO membership. The agreement involved the Nordic countries lifting arms embargoes they had previously imposed on Turkey, toughening their laws against Kurdish militant activists that Ankara deems to be terrorists, and addressing Turkish extradition requests for suspected Kurdish fighters. In May, after the Sweden and Finland began the process of seeking NATO membership, both Sweden’s and Finland's WILPF Sections wrote an article urging those states to remain nuclear-weapon-free and strong voices for disarmament, reiterating that “sustainable peace is not created through weapons and the military trained in warfare, but through negotiations, cooperation, diplomacy, and addressing the root causes of armed conflict.” 

New study by PAX examines banks in Europe that invest in arms companies that sell weapons to states involved in human rights violations or armed conflict

A study by Dutch peace organisation PAX has revealed that “the largest fifteen banks in Europe invest 87,7 billion euro in arms companies that sell weapons to states involved in human rights violations or armed conflict”. The report “High-risk arms trade and the financial sector” examines which of the 15 largest European banks are providing financial services to the largest arms companies involved in controversial arms trade, and focuses on the policies of those banks to prevent these companies from exporting weapons to controversial destinations. In its conclusions, PAX recommends banks to ensure they do not provide any finance to arms producers that sell weapons to countries where risks of human rights violations, or violations of international humanitarian law, are high. You can access the full report here.

Recent increase in military spending from France and Spain

At the NATO summit held in Madrid at the end of June, Spain stated it would increase its military spending to reach the 2% of GDP goal by 2029. Currently, only nine of the thirty NATO members meet or surpass that goal, and in order to achieve it, Spain would have to double its budget for military spending from the current 13 billion euros to 26 billion euros in seven years. The government has already initiated efforts to achieve the commitment, as in early July the Spanish cabinet members approved a one-off expenditure of almost 1 billion euros to cover unexpected expenses produced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

France has also taken measures to increase its military spending, as the government recently proposed a 44 billion euros budget for its military in 2023. The amount includes a 3 billion euros increase over last year's budget. In explaining the reasons for the increase, the Minister of Defence Sébastien Lecornu mentioned the war in Ukraine and the need for France to improve its capabilities in cyber offence, space, and unmanned systems. The proposed amount was announced a few weeks after President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the recent Eurosatory trade conference, in which he declared that France had entered a “war economy” and called on neighbouring nations to support Europe's defence-industrial base before looking abroad.

Recommended reading

High-risk arms trade and the financial sector,” PAX, July 2022 

Vanessa Murphy, “Gendered impacts of armed conflicts and implications for the application of IHL,” International Committee of the Red Cross, 29 June 2022

Pavel Podvig, “Verifying disarmament in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” UNIDIR, 22 June 2022

Ray Acheson, “Notes on intersectionality and nuclear weapons in theory and practice,” Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, 14 June 2022

Anyone can die at anytime: Indiscriminate attacks by Russian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine,” Amnesty International, 13 June 2022

Erica Mumford, “The unintended impacts of U.S. weapons supplied to Afghanistan,” The Diplomat, 7 June 2022

Sahr Muhammedally, “A primer on civilian harm mitigation in urban operations,” CIVIC, June 2022

Small arms and light weapons proliferation and violence: Estimating its scale and forms,” IANSA, June 2022

Civil society participation in firearms collection and destruction in non-conflict scenarios,” IANSA, June 2022

 Children shooting children,” IANSA and IPIS, June 2022

 25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war,” UNICEF, June 2022