February 2023 E-News
As a disarmament programme of an antiwar organisation, it is imperative that we oppose militarism in all its aspects, which is why we support those organising to Stop Cop City. In September 2021, the Atlanta City Council passed legislation to build a $90 million police training facility, which, if constructed, will be the largest police training facility in the United States. This would be a place that cops not only from Georgia or the United States, but also from all over the world, would use to practise urban warfighting with the latest military technologies.
In their new article, RCW Director Ray Acheson demonstrates why this so-called “Public Safety Training Center” does not guarantee safety, but rather enables further police brutality, militarism, racism, environmental damage, gentrification, and corporate profiteering. “Whether you are working on climate change, police violence, economic or social justice, racial justice, housing rights, disarmament and demilitarisation, etc., the training grounds at Cop City are meant to oppress you. Stopping Cop City is not just the responsibility of those living in Atlanta. All our struggles for a livable world are bound up in this struggle.” Find out more about Cop City and how you can engage in the work to stop it, including through an upcoming Global Week of Solidarity from 19-26 February 2023.
In this edition:
- Upcoming disarmament meetings
- Support for the TPNW continues to grow!
- WILPF’s sections mobilise against the use of EWIPA
- New articles by the RCW team
- Allison’s goodbye message
- Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month
- Upcoming events
- Featured news
- Recommended resources
Third session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats
The third substantive session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ammunition is taking place in New York from 13–17 February 2023.
Arms Trade Treaty meetings
The Working Group meetings and first Informal Preparatory Meeting of the Ninth Conference of States Parties (CSP9) to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) are taking place in Geneva on 14–17 February 2023. RCW is monitoring the meetings and publishing statements, presentations, and summaries on our website.
Regional Conference on the social and humanitarian impact of autonomous weapons
The Costa Rican government is organising the “Regional Conference on the Social and Humanitarian Impact of Autonomous Weapons” from 23–24 February 2023. Prior to the meeting, Stop Killer Robots will organise its fourth Global Meeting, “The Digital Dehumanisation Conference,” from 20–22 February 2023. More information on both conferences will be made available soon at the Stop Killer Robots website.
CCW Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapon systems, first session of 2023
In March, the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (GGE on LAWS) will resume its work. The first session is scheduled for 6–10 March 2023 in Geneva. If you want to find out more about the work done by this Group last year, check out our CCW Report.
Fourth Substantive Session of the the UN OEWG on ICT
The UN's Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on information and communications technology (ICT) will convene in New York from 6–10 March 2023. RCW won’t be monitoring the meeting, but you can find conference documents on our website, and analysis from past meetings in our Cyber Peace & Security Monitor. For further information, visit the UNODA website.
Support for the TPNW continues to grow!
On 22 January 2023, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) celebrated two years of its entry into force! Many ICAN partners around the world took action to celebrate this important date and to call for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Campaigners delivered flowers to Permanent Missions of TPNW states parties, held an “Abolish Nuclear Weapons! Join the Treaty!” rally in front of the New York Public Library, and marched to the US Mission to the UN. At the UK's Trident nuclear submarine base in Scotland, campaigners celebrated the second anniversary of the TPNW’s entry into force and protested the UK's continued intention to retain and proliferate nuclear weapons. In Philadelphia, protesters organised a rally in front of the Federal Courthouse. In Tucson, people protested at the Raytheon plant against the production of nuclear weapons and celebrated the TPNW’s anniversary of entry into force. (Picture credit: Hideko Otake)
In February, 60 Greek municipalities joined the ICAN Cities Appeal! They have joined hundreds of cities around the world in calling on their governments to sign and ratify the TPNW.
As another effort to increase the support for the TPNW, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and ICAN organised the African Regional Seminar on the Universalisation of the TPNW in Pretoria, South Africa, from 30 to 31 January. A total of 37 African states participated in the meeting, many of which have signed the TPNW and have announced their intention to ratify it ahead of the second Meeting of States Parties in November 2023. Among others, WILPF members from Zimbabwe, Cameroon and the Central African Republic participated in the meeting. (Picture credit: Cornel van Heerden / ICAN)
If you want to organise activities in your local community to gather support for the TPNW, check out the ICAN universalisation fund. ICAN is offering the possibility of applying for funds to support activities aimed at encouraging and enabling national and regional progress towards universalising the TPNW.
WILPF’s sections mobilise against the use of EWIPA
WILPF’s Sections around the world have carried out activities to raise awareness about the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and to gather support for the political declaration that opened for signature in November 2022.
The Scottish Branch of WILPF UK organised a parliamentary event about the use of EWIPA during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence at the Scottish Parliament. Speakers included the members of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) Orlaith Minogue, from Save the Children, Iain Overton, from Action on Armed Violence, and Megan Karlshoj-Pedersen, from Airwars. Representatives from Scottish civil society, parliamentarians, and researchers participated in the meeting. (Picture credit: WILPF UK - Scottish Branch)
WILPF Burundi organised a workshop for local civil society organisations to raise awareness about the use of EWIPA and the recently adopted political declaration. The Section also held strategic meetings with members of the government to advocate for the signature of the political declaration. (Picture credit: WILPF Burundi)
WILPF Sri Lanka organised a workshop at Kotalawala Defense University (KDU). The activity provided a platform for students of international relations to learn about the work of WILPF Sri Lanka and to engage with several disarmament topics, including the use of EWIPA.
WILPF Zimbabwe carried out meetings with four government ministries (Foreign Affairs, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Media and Information, and Women Affairs) as part of its advocacy towards increasing support for the political declaration. The Section also made presentations about the use of EWIPA at two events: at the Ntombankala Primary School on the International Day of the Girl Child; and at an event organised by the Ministry of Women Affairs, UN Women Zimbabwe, and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to celebrate the anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325. Finally, the Section organised a workshop with women from grassroots movements to raise awareness about the use of EWIPA. (Picture credit: WILPF Zimbabwe)
WILPF Togo organised several communications activities in order to raise awareness about the use of EWIPA within the community. It also organised a workshop with civil society organisations and had meetings with local authorities. (Picture credit: WILPF Togo)
WILPF DRC organised a workshop with 30 local actors, which included civil society organisations, women's organisations working in the field of disarmament, members of the National Commission for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and focal points of ministries. The Section also organised a roundtable with parliamentarians to advocate for the signature of the political declaration by the DRC government.
RCW Director Ray Acheson recently published the article “Abolishing Geopolitics and Building a World Without State Violence” in Metapolis. Looking at the war in Ukraine as a starting point but broadening the scope to examine the current “world order,” the article examines disarmament and demilitarisation in relation to the limits of geopolitics and the opportunities provided by abolition.
They also published an article about the movement in Atlanta, Georgia to Stop Cop City, which highlights the confluence of militarism, environmental destruction, and corporate profiteering and calls on those working for peace in all its aspects to take action.
RCW Manager Allison Pytlak published the article “Exploring Human-Centric Cyber Security”. In this article, Pytlak questions the state-centric approach to cyber policy and governance spaces, and demonstrates how humanitarian disarmament offers a model for cyber peace through its human focus and emphasis on inclusivity.
After more than six years at WILPF, Allison Pytlak, RCW Manager, is leaving to pursue new adventures. We are very sad to see her leaving, but looking forward to seeing the incredible things she will continue to achieve! Here is Allison’s personal goodbye message:
After several rewarding years as the Manager of WILPF’s Disarmament Programme (Reaching Critical Will), I will be moving on from the organisation this month.
The journey of the last six years is paved with incredible moments. Some of these moments are very visible, like the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb and the achievement of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; or the adoption of strong outcomes on gender-based violence during the 2019 Arms Trade Treaty conference and launching the Think & Resist podcast series. Yet there have also been many less visible but equally special memories: the exhausted giddiness of late-night UN conference monitoring; that moment of meeting another WILPFer in-person for the first time after exchanging countless emails; working frantically with colleagues across time zones to meet a deadline on a proposal or submission; or seeing our suggestions be included (more or less) in UN resolutions or government statements.
I will take many memories and lessons with me as I move on. I appreciate deeply the opportunities I’ve had to learn from WILPF Sections, members, partners, staff, and of course, from the formidable RCW team. In particular I’ve appreciated the opportunity to learn about local and national experiences, and find ways to connect that with the international work of the Secretariat. I’ve learned not only about weapons (and how to ban them!), but also much about strength, resilience, courage, and how it feels to be a part of something that is powerful and transformative. Thank you all for so many inspiring moments and opportunities.
The next steps in my journey will take me into a role with the Stimson Center, a research organisation, where I’ll be taking on issues of cyber peace and security. I sincerely hope to stay connected with many of you and with WILPF, including through the Canadian section. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and say hello!
Peace and hugs,
Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month
Our recommendation of the month is the recent Spanish translation of RCW’s “Armas Autónomas y Patriarcado.” This report, written by RCW Director Ray Acheson and previously published in English under the title “Autonomous weapons and patriarchy,” unpacks the concepts of patriarchy and militarised masculinities and explains how these are relevant for an analysis of autonomous weapon systems. It outlines how the operation of weapons programmed to target and kill based on pre-programmed algorithms against people who are racialised, gendered, and otherwise categorised, will result in the violation of human rights and dignity. Overall, it argues the importance of confronting autonomous weapons not just as material technologies that need to be prohibited, but as manifestations of the broader policies and structures of violence that perpetuate an increasing abstraction of violence and devaluation of human life.
Third Substantive Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ammunition
13–17 February 2023 | New York, USA
Working Group meetings and 1st CSP9 Informal Preparatory Meeting
14–17 February 2023 | Geneva, Switzerland
REAIM: Responsible AI in the Military Domain
15–16 February |The Hague, Netherlands
Regional Conference on the Social and Humanitarian Impact of Autonomous Weapons
23–24 February 2023 | San Jose, Costa Rica
CCW Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapon systems, first session of 2023
06–10 March 2023 | Geneva, Switzerland
Fourth Substantive Session of the the UN OEWG on ICT
06–10 March 2023 | New York, USA
Events and webinars
Forum on the Arms Trade's annual conference
16 and 21 February | Online
The Digital Dehumanisation Conference
20–22 February 2023 | San Jose, Costa Rica
Atomic Tales: A Science and Technology Symposium Addressing the Legacy and Future of Nuclear Weapons and Energy
25 February 2023 | New York and online
2023 Cyber Stability Conference - Use of ICTs by States: Rights and Responsibilities under the UN Charter
3 March 2023 | New York and online
ICAN Act On It Forum
9-10 March 2023 | Oslo, Norway
CAAT challenges arms sales to Saudi Arabia in Court
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is suing the British government over arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Despite clear evidence of international humanitarian violations such as bombing of schools, hospitals, food supplies, and civilians in the war in Yemen, the UK government has refused to stop sales of arms to Saudi Arabia. With the lawsuit, CAAT aims to stop future weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and to suspend existing arms licences. At the end of January, campaigners organised a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the eve of the case’s hearings. CAAT has also recently published a new report analysing military exports in 2020 and 2021. The research found that the majority of UK arms exports go to human rights abusers.
US updates directive on autonomous weapon systems
Earlier this year, the United States (US) updated its directive on autonomous weapons systems (AWS). This was the first major policy update since 2012. The new policy establishes a working group, assigns responsibilities for developing and using AWS, and creates “guidelines designed to minimize the probability and consequences of failures in autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems that could lead to unintended engagements.” The US’s director of “emerging capabilities policy,” Michael Horowitz, clarified in a January briefing that “The directive does not prohibit the development of any particular weapon system.” Human Rights Watch, in a report issued on 14 February, said that the directive is an inadequate response to the threats posed by removing human control from the use of force, and that instead of creating adequate controls on the development of these weapons, the directive could facilitate it. “The US pursuit of autonomous weapons systems without binding legal rules to explicitly address the dangers is a recipe for disaster,” said Mary Wareham, arms advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “National policy and legislation are urgently needed to address the risks and challenges raised by removing human control from the use of force.”
Human Rights Watch calls on Ukraine to investigate its military for using landmines
Human Rights Watch documented cases of use of PFM antipersonnel mines, also called “butterfly mines” or “petal mines,” in Russian-occupied areas. The organisation called on Ukraine to investigate these uses, and reminded that Ukraine is a state party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits any use of antipersonnel mines. Human Rights Watch has also previously published three reports documenting Russian forces’ use of antipersonnel landmines in Ukraine in 2022.
Report concludes that companies are helping Myanmar’s military to manufacture arms
The Special Advisory Council on Myanmar (SAC-M) said in a report released in January that companies in the United States, Europe, and Asia have been providing supplies that are “critical” to the production of weapons in Myanmar. As reported by Al Jazeera, this support includes licences, raw materials, software, and parts and components. According to SAC-M’s Yanghee Lee, a former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, “Foreign companies are enabling the Myanmar military – one of the world’s worst human rights abusers – to produce many of the weapons it uses to commit daily atrocities against the Myanmar people.”
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist has reset the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight
The Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward 90 seconds to midnight, due mostly to the war in Ukraine. According to the organisation, the Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 “using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.” By setting it in 90 seconds to midnight, this is the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.
Lack of progress in plans to revive JCPOA
Plans to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are stalled according to the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. Both Iran and the United States have exchanged accusations over the past months on who is responsible for the lack of progress in negotiations. As reported by Arms Control Now, in a briefing to the European Parliament in January, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi described the JCPOA as “an empty shell” and said that Iran has stockpiled “enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons.”
Documents reveal that Australia’s Foreign Minister insisted on sending an observer to the first meeting of states parties to the TPNW last year
An article by The Guardian reveals that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia formally recommended against sending an observer to the first meeting of state parties to the TPNW last year. However, Penny Wong, Australia’s Foreign Minister, insisted on sending a representative to the meeting. Gem Romuld, director of ICAN Australia welcomed the decision, saying that “It’s clear that certain officials at the foreign ministry are intent on maintaining the previous government’s unprincipled position on this treaty,” and added that it was “time for Australia to dispense with the dangerous, outdated notion that nuclear weapons bring security.”
Nela Porobić, “Commodifying War: The Political Economy of Disaster Capitalism in Ukraine and Beyond,” Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 14 February 2023
Cesar Jaramillo and Kelsey Gallagher, “Five urgent questions about arms transfers to Ukraine,” Project Ploughshares, 9 February 2023
Bonnie Docherty, “Implementation and Innovation: Humanitarian Disarmament in 2023,” Forum on the Arms Trade, 2 February 2023
Humanity & Inclusion, The impact of explosive weapons in Gaza: The people behind numbers, Factsheet 2022, February 2023
Elizabeth Minor, Laws for LAWS: Towards a treaty to regulate lethal autonomous weapons, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, February 2023
Podcast: Amnesty International Canada, “Facial recognition and policing protesters,” Rights Back at You, 31 January 2023
Erin Hunt, “To rebuild Ukraine, the world needs to help clear the land from mines,” The Globe and Mail, 30 January 2023
Podcast: Kelly Hayes, “The death of a forest defender at ‘Stop Cop City’,” Movement Memos: A Truthout Podcast, 26 January 2023
Columba Achilleos-Sarll, Jennifer Thomson, Toni Haastrup, Karoline Färber, Carol Cohn, Paul Kirby, The Past, Present, and Future(s) of Feminist Foreign Policy, International Studies Review, 23 January 2023
Jennifer Meninger and Veronika Datzer, “Die Notwendigkeit feministischer Cyberpolitik,” 49 Security, January 2023
Conflict and Environment Observatory, EU military greening policies: A review of transparency and implementation, January 2023
Laura Considini, Rethinking the beginning of the ‘nuclear age’ through telling feminist nuclear stories, Z Friedens und Konflforsch, 29 December 2022