May 2023 E-News

Nearly four decades ago, in the early 1980s, feminist activists and peacemakers came together to forge a significant milestone making 24 May the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament. Ever since, this day has become a powerful rallying point in the ongoing pursuit for a more peaceful and equitable world.

Today, as world military expenditure reaches a new record, organising against militarisation and the war machine becomes even more important. From direct actions against weapons producers to protests calling for investment in climate action, people around the world have been pressuring governments towards change. Let’s use this day to highlight the power of collective action and the essential role of feminists in these efforts.

In this edition:

Upcoming disarmament meetings

CCW Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapon systems

The second session of the 2023 CCW Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapon systems is happening from 15–19 May  in Geneva. RCW is monitoring the meeting and will publish a summary of the discussions in our CCW Report. To learn what was discussed in the previous session of the GGE, check out the previous editions of the CCW Report.

Fifth Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference

The Fifth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (RC-5) is taking place from 15–19 May 2023 at the World Forum in The Hague, Netherlands. You can find documents and more information about the Conference at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ webpage.

2023 NPT Preparatory Committee

The first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2026 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will meet from 31 July–11 August 2023 at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria. In addition, the Working Group on further strengthening the review process of the Treaty will take place 24–28 July in the same venue. Information about civil society participation is available at the RCW website

Registration and accreditation: Organisations must send their requests for accreditation no later than 2 June 2023. Online registration will be available from 19 June to 17 July 2023 to representatives of NGOs whose accreditation has been approved. Check out this information note for further info.

Side-events: Side events that can be accommodated within the room allocated to non-governmental organisations (Conference Room M4) are being scheduled by WILPF.  You can find more information on how to book the civil society room at our website

Recently concluded disarmament meetings

Working Group meetings and Second CSP9 Informal Preparatory Meeting

The Working Group meetings and Second Informal Preparatory Meeting of the Ninth Conference of States Parties (CSP9) to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) took place in Geneva on 9–12 May 2023. WILPF delivered a statement under the discussion about the priority theme for the Korean Presidency on “the role of industry in responsible international transfers of conventional arms”. Recalling WILPF's very first resolution in 1915, which saw “in the private profits accruing from the great armament factories a powerful hindrance to the abolition of war,” the organisation recommended that rather than considering the benefits for industry of engaging in the ATT, states should articulate how industry can better comply with the ATT’s objective and purpose. WILPF also highlighted the symbiotic relationship between the state and arms industry, which contributes directly to the construction of so-called national security policies, as well as militarised views of citizen identity. WILPF expressed hope that the voices of those that suffer the horrors of violence and war and bear the direct impact of the destruction caused by weapons are heard and keep guiding the work of this Treaty.

Global Days of Action on Military Spending

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) newest military expenditure data for 2022 shows yet another year of increase in global military spending, up 3.7 percent from 2021 to another all-time high of US $2240 billion. 

The Global Campaign on Military Spending organised several activities within the scope of the “Global Days of Action on Military Spending” from 13 April to 9 May 2023. As stated in the ​​2023 Appeal - War Costs Us the Earth, signed by WILPF and several other organisations, “Our governments currently spend more than US$2 trillion on militarisation, but military expansion is inconsistent with efforts to reach essential emissions targets and will exacerbate, not stem, the climate emergency.” (Image credit: @DemilitarizeDay)

Militarisation halts progress in addressing the climate crisis

The US Defense Department is opposing plans to advance offshore wind projects along the central Atlantic US coast, warning that almost all of the new terrain eyed for development conflicts with military operations. The US administration plans to install 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by the end of the decade, but its Defense Department is raising concerns over the installation of wind turbines near many of its operations and facilities, including North Carolina's Dare County bombing range, used for training fighter jet crews, and a weapons station in Yorktown, Va.

Meanwhile, the board of Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor, advised all their shareholders to vote against a resolution that would require a company report “disclosing how the Company intends to reduce its full value chain greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C degree goal requiring Net Zero emissions by 2050.” at the company’s shareholder meeting that took place in April. In the board’s reasoning, shareholders should vote no on the resolution because it is “premature and not in the best interest of our Company or our stockholders.” As Danaka Katovich and David Gibson wrote in the Jacobin, this action “makes it clear that in addition to promoting conflict and violence around the world, Lockheed Martin is also uninterested in scaling back its significant contribution to climate change.”

WILPF has long highlighted the corporate connections between the ecological crisis and militarism. On 22 April, Earth Day, WILPF called on states to move money from militarism to climate action and urged investment in peaceful, regenerative economies, support for grassroots feminism, funding for Indigenous environmental activists, and defence of land, water, and forests. To learn more about our environmental initiatives and how you can support them, visit WILPF’s Environment page. (Images credit: WILPF)

WILPF submissions to the UPR of Russia

At the end of April, WILPF made a joint submission and an individual submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Russia, which is taking place this year. In a joint submission with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), we describe violations linked to Russia’s threats of using nuclear weapons, and its failure to negotiate to achieve nuclear disarmament. We also present concerns regarding Russia’s nuclear weapons modernisation and spending, and illustrate the human rights impacts of its nuclear weapon testing and production.

The individual WILPF submission illustrates examples of human rights violations within Russia, especially those relating to the repression of people opposing the war in Ukraine. The submission addresses the intersectional dimensions of repression; the use of new technology in repression; militarisation of education; forced recruitment and the targeting of ethnic minorities and Indigenous communities; and violations of the right to conscientious objection to military service. The submission also recalls violations linked to Russia’s use of explosive weapons in Syria and Ukraine, as documented by investigative mechanisms of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) and human rights organisations. It also presents concerns relating to Russia’s arms trade. The UPR Working Group will review Russia at its 44th session on 13 November 2023. 

RCW welcomes a new colleague to the team!

RCW is very happy to welcome Emma Bjertén as a Manager to the RCW team! Emma will be working with WILPF’s advocacy and research on a wide range of disarmament issues, in addition to monitoring and reporting on multilateral disarmament fora. Prior to joining Reaching Critical Will, Emma worked as a consultant on gender-responsive small arms control at the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). She also worked as a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), where she wrote publications related to the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, disarmament, peace processes, and militarisation processes. She has a background working with gender mainstreaming strategies and ethical guidelines in the Swedish Central Administration. Emma holds a master degree in Peace and Conflict studies from Uppsala University. She is based in New York and can be reached at emma.bjerten[at]wilpf.org.  

Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month

Our recommendation of the month is Episode 2 of the podcast “Think & Resist: Conversations about Feminism and Peace,” produced by WILPF. Episode 2, “What about the Arms Trade?”, focuses on the gendered impacts of the international arms trade, and the ways in which the proliferation of weapons can undermine efforts to achieve the Women, Peace and Security agenda. With examples from Yemen and Nepal, Aïcha Madi and Shobha Shrestha explore how different arms control instruments function practically in efforts to limit human rights violations and gender-based violence, as well as the limitations to these instruments. They also ask: is feminist foreign policy compatible with active participation in the arms trade?

Upcoming events


CCW Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapon systems, second session of 2023

15–19 May 2023 | Geneva, Switzerland

Fifth Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference
15–19 May 2023 | The Hague, Netherlands

UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians
23 May 2023 | New York, USA

Side event on protecting civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas
24 May 2023 | New York, USA

Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies
17–21 July 2023 | New York, USA

NPT Working Group on further strengthening the review process of the Treaty
24–28 July 2023 | Vienna, Austria

2023 NPT Preparatory Committee
31 July–11 August 2023 | Vienna, Austria

Events and webinars

Building Movements: Climate Crisis & Militarization
23 May 2023 | Online

Drawing Parallels: A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective on the Cyber PoA Scope, Structure and Content
1 June 2023 |Geneva, Switzerland and online

Featured news

Opposition to the AUKUS nuclear submarine agreement continues to grow in the Pacific

Since its announcement, the AUKUS nuclear submarine military pact has been widely condemned by Pacific leaders as neo-imperialism that violates a regional commitment to anti-nuclearism. In an article written by Marco de Jong and Arama Rata, the authors reflect on the threat AUKUS poses to the Pacific, the legacies of Pacific regionalism in opposing imperial domination, and the duty to protect their ancestral home, Hawaiki. In another text, Ben Abbatangelo writes about the nature of the colonial machine and its endless war against the strength of Indigenous existence.

The local community in Wollongong, Australia has also been mobilising against AUKUS. This port city is one of the sites named by the government as a potential host for the nuclear submarines. Wollongong Against War and Nukes participated in a May Day March for Peace, Jobs and Justice that was called for by the South Coast Labour Council. WAWAN was proud to march alongside hundreds of unionists, activists, and locals to demand NO NUCLEAR SUBS!

Youth and parliamentarians meet in Hiroshima ahead of the G7 Leaders’ Summit 

Ahead of the G7 Leaders’ Summit taking place in Hiroshima in May, ICAN convened G7 parliamentarians in Tokyo and Hiroshima for a three day Forum on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The adopted statement urges the G7 governments to recognize the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, condemn threats to use nuclear weapons, and discuss ways to promote their total elimination. They recognised the TPNW as the comprehensive and effective legal tool to do so.

On 25-27 April, ICAN also organised the Hiroshima G7 Youth Summit, in which 50 young people, mostly from G7 countries, discussed with and heard from experts on nuclear disarmament, met with survivors, visited significant locations in Hiroshima, connected with each other and developed joint recommendations to the G7 leaders for real, and urgently needed, action to eliminate nuclear weapons. The participants adopted a statement calling on G7 heads of state to take immediate action towards the abolition of nuclear weapons. (Image credit: ICAN)

New pictures from inside Fukushima nuclear reactor raises concerns

Underwater pictures from the Fukushima nuclear reactor taken by the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), are triggering concerns about earthquake resistance in the case of another major disaster. The images show that the exterior of the pedestal is significantly damaged on the bottom leaving the steel reinforcement inside exposed, raising concerns about the reactor's safety.

Dying under bombs and shells: New report finds escalation in armed conflicts worldwide causes over 80 percent surge in civilian casualties from explosive weapons

The number of civilians killed or injured by bombing and shelling in urban areas globally soared by 83 percent in 2022, largely driven by the increased use of explosive weapons by Russian armed forces in Ukraine, and rising incidents in Ethiopia, Myanmar and Somalia, a new report by the Explosive Weapons Monitor (EWM) has revealed. According to “Two Years of Global Harm to Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons (2021-2022)”, explosive weapons used in cities, towns and villages caused at least 20,793 civilian deaths and injuries around the world in 2022, compared with at least 11,343 in 2021. The highest civilian toll was recorded in Ukraine where 10,351 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2022, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country, compared with 28 casualties in 2021. (Image credit: Explosive Weapons Monitor)

Explosive violence and other fighting breaks out in Sudan

On 15 April 2023, Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, was rocked by sounds of heavy artillery in the southern part of the city, as soldiers from Sudan’s national army and soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group, began a series of armed confrontations. The ongoing conflict in Sudan has had a devastating impact on women and girls, who are among the most vulnerable in conflict situations. Despite the challenges, Sudanese women remain committed to making their voices heard in peacebuilding efforts. To learn how, check out the analysis written by Reem Abbas at the WILPF website. (Image credit: WILPF)

United States announces four new military bases in the Philippines

In February, the governments of the United States and the Philippines announced a deal to establish four new military bases in the Philippines as part of an “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” signed in 2014. On 3 April, the US Department of Defense revealed that three of those sites are in the north, near Taiwan, a source of rising tensions between the United States and China.

Launch of the Arms Trade Litigation Monitor

Saferworld and the Emergent Justice Collective, with the support of the International Commission of Jurists, have launched the Arms Trade Litigation Monitor. This initiative “documents and monitors developments in domestic and international arms-trade related litigation, analysing their impact on ATT implementation as well as their implications for the accountability of arms-suppliers.” According to the Monitor, the main focus has been on arms supplies linked with the armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. On the project’s website, it is possible to find detailed information about the background and progress of each case, access and download all related court documents, read expert opinion and analysis, and explore common challenges faced across the cases.

New report by Amnesty International documents the use of facial recognition systems in Palestine

In a new report, Automated Apartheid, Amnesty International documents how Red Wolf - an experimental facial recognition system - is part of an ever-growing surveillance network that is entrenching the Israeli government’s control over Palestinians, and which helps to maintain Israel’s system of apartheid. According to the organisation, “Red Wolf is deployed at military checkpoints in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, where it scans Palestinians’ faces and adds them to vast surveillance databases without their consent.” (Image credit: Amnesty International)

Tech company Palantir announces it is incorporating ChatGPT functions into its software for military operations

Palantir, the company of billionaire Peter Thiel, is launching Palantir Artificial Intelligence Platform (AIP), software meant to run large language models like GPT-4 and alternatives on private networks. In one of its pitch videos, Palantir demos how a military might use AIP to fight a war. In the video, the operator uses a ChatGPT-style chatbot to order drone reconnaissance, generate several plans of attack, and organize the jamming of enemy communications. As Vice points out in his coverage of this announcement, “While there is a “human in the loop” in the AIP demo, they seem to do little more than ask the chatbot what to do and then approve its actions. Drone warfare has already abstracted warfare, making it easier for people to kill vast distances with the push of a button. The consequences of those systems are well documented. In Palantir’s vision of the military’s future, more systems would be automated and abstracted.”

Russia is employing facial recognition technology to identify men eligible for compulsory military service

A report by Russian state-owned news agency TASS affirms that Moscow authorities are using facial recognition to track down young men eligible for serving in the military. 

According to Moscow’s chief enlistment officer, video surveillance systems in the city of Moscow are being used to determine the place of residence of the conscripts. Since the start of the Ukraine war, at least 300,000 reservists have been mobilised to fight. 

New York City police to acquire robot dogs 

The New York City mayor announced that the New York Police Department will acquire new semi-autonomous robotic canines. In 2021, the city gave up on its plans of using a camera-carrying robot dog for surveillance after a massive public outcry; now, two years later, the city police is moving the program forward again.

Recommended resources

Daryl G. Kimball, “An Early Test for the TPNW,” Arms Control Today, May 2023

Allison Pytlak and Andrea Salvi, “Striking the right balance: A Commentary on the fourth substantive session of the OEWG on ICTs,” Directions Cyber Digital Europe, 14 April 2023

Nujeen Mustafa, “The use of explosive weapons in urban areas must stop,” Aljazeera, 25 April 2023

Marco de Jong and Arama Rata, “Resist AUKUS - Project Hawaiki,” E-Tangata, 2 April 2023

Research Network on Women, Peace and Security (RN-WPS), “Where is the Peace in Canada's Women Peace and Security Agenda?,” April 2023

Ray Acheson, “El tratado sobre la prohibición de las armas nucleares y el género, el feminismo y la interseccionalidad,” WILPF España, April 2023

Jacqulyn Kantack, “Stop Killer Robots Global Meeting Showcases Campaign’s Strength,” Humanitarian Disarmament, 13 March 2023

Webinar: “It’s All Policing, It’s All War: Chicago Organizers on Connecting Abolition and Demilitarization,” Barnard Center for Research on Women,” 25 April 2023

Webinar: “Cop City: Police, Protest and Social Control”, Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, 3 May 2023