November 2012 E-News

After a brief hiatus in October, the RCW E-News is back! During the past month, we’ve been covering the General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Securitywriting analysis, archiving statements and resolutions, and advocating for decisions that will lead to intensified disarmament efforts. Despite some interruptions by Hurricane Sandy, this year’s Committee was more productive than ever. Member states took decisions on a number of resolutions that will establish new processes to explore issues related to nuclear disarmament and to fissile materials. They also set up the next negotiation conference for the arms trade treaty, which is scheduled for March 2013.

More information on First Committee can be found below, along with information on other past initiatives that we participated in during September and October. In addition, find out what we’re up to next, including the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. These 16 days run from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. They offer a great opportunity for those working on disarmament and arms control issues to advance a gender analysis in our work and to demand that gender-based violence be included as an essential component of the arms trade treaty and disarmament and arms control programmes and policies.

During the past two months, WILPF members around the world have also been active on issues of disarmament and militarization. WILPF US recently protested continued testing of US ballistic missiles, while WILPF Pakistan met with US peace activists who were there to protest the use of drones in Pakistan. Find out more about their initiatives below and if you like what we’re doing, consider getting involved with WILPF.

In peace,
Ray Acheson, RCW Director

In this edition:

 First Committee sets up new disarmament processes

For the full scoop on what happened during First Committee, check out the First Committee Monitor. Also see governmental statements, draft resolutions and voting results, civil society presentations, and more. Also see presentations from the UNIDIR-RCW event on disarmament machinery delivered during a side event on 11 October.

First Committee is often viewed as a forum for member states to exposit on every topic related to disarmament and international security and to table resolutions that change little in substance or in result from year to year. This year, however, it had before it several very important and concrete questions. In the end, all of the new initiatives were adopted with an overwhelming majority of support. In most cases, the dissenters were those who benefit most from the status quo and thus did not want to permit the establishment of new processes, particularly if their power to veto would not be guaranteed.


 Catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons

At this year’s First Committee, the issue of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons received increased attention from governments and civil society. 35 states delivered a joint statement on this subject and called on all states to “intensify their efforts to outlaw nuclear weapons and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.” Several civil society groups also submitted a joint statement to First Committee on this subject, urging states to come together to ban nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) organized a side event in conjunction with the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN to examine in further detail the humanitarian implications of nuclear weapons.


 Women, disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control

On 6 November, First Committee adopted without a vote a draft resolution on women, disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control. The resolution, A/C.1/67/L.35/Rev.1, was tabled by Trinidad and Tobago and co-sponsored by 64 other countries. The resolution was updated substantially from its 2010 version and goes further to promote the role of women in disarmament processes and in initiatives aimed at reducing armed violence and conflict. While it is weaker than many civil society groups and governments wanted, overall it will serve as a valuable tool for promoting the equitable and effective role of women in disarmament issues.


 Humanitarian Disarmament Campaigns Summit

In October, RCW participated in a “Humanitarian Disarmament Campaigns Summit”, organised by Human Rights Watch. It brought together organisations and campaigns working on landmines, cluster munitions, nuclear weapons, explosive weapons, the arms trade, small arms, uranium weapons, and robot arms, to discuss how we can move humanitarian disarmament issues forward.


 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

The 2012 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign, hosted by the Rutgers School of Arts and Science’s Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), marks the third year of advocacy on the intersections of gender-based violence and militarism. WILPF will be actively contributing to the campaign at the national and international levels. At WILPF International we are planning a 16 Days Blog Campaign on this website. Each day we will publish a new post in our WILPF Journal, which will take a close-up of one of the campaign’s three themes. WILPF Sections will also be taking actions at the local and national levels. Stay tuned with the WILPF website for details!

 Human rights impact of nuclear testing

On 14 September, Reaching Critical Will, in cooperation with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and American Anthropological Association, organized a side event at the Human Rights Council in connection to the presentation of the report on the human rights impact of the US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands by the Special Rapporteur on Toxic Wastes. The event consisted of a panel discussion with testimonies on environmental damage, health and other human rights abuse experienced by the people in the Marshall Islands and other nuclear test sites. 


 High-level forum on the culture of peace

On 14 September 2012, the General Assembly hosted a High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace. Maria Butler, director of WILPF’s programme PeaceWomen, delivered remarks on military spending, the arms trade treaty, and the importance of women’s participation.


 New WILPF website

In September, WILPF International published its brand new website! The site has many exciting interactive features, including a daily blog, campaign tips, information on getting involved, and more. Please check it out and sign up for WILPF updates!

 RCW director wins Spirit of the UN award

On 22 October 2012, Reaching Critical Will's Director, Ray Acheson, was awarded the “Spirit of the UN” award. Each year, this award is given to representatives of civil society, the UN Secretariat or agencies, and governments in order to honour their work for peace and justice at the United Nations. The award recipients are chosen by the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values, and Global Concerns and given on behalf of several of the NGO Committees that are affiliated with the UN in New York.


 WILPF in the World: WILPF Pakistan meets with US peace activists

On 29 September and 3 October 2012, the Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA) and WILPF Pakistan jointly organized two meetings for 15 American peace activists during their visit to Pakistan. The peace activists were in Pakistan to protest against the American government’s use of drone technology in Waziristan, which has killed many innocent people. The Peace delegation was led by Ms. Medea Benjamin, a women’s rights and peace activist from the United States and a tireless campaigner against all wars. PODA and WILPF members met with the delegation to thank them for visiting Pakistan and for speaking up for the rights of all people to live in peace everywhere.


 Upcoming Events

GGE on the Register of Conventional Arms
12–16 November 2012 | New York City, USA

2012 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
15–16 November 2012 | Geneva, Switzerland

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence
25 November–10 December 2012 | Global

OPCW Conference of States Parties: 17th Session
26–30 November 2012 | The Hague, Netherlands

2012 Meeting of States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention
3–7 December 2012 | Geneva, Switzerland

Nuclear Free Now: Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World
15–16 December 2012 | Tokyo and Fukushima, Japan

 Featured News

UK review of Trident likely to suggest downgrade
The UK government’s review of the future of the Trident submarine nuclear missile system is likely to suggest a significant downgrading of the UK’s nuclear force, including the possibility of locking the warheads ‘in a cupboard’ for delayed launch only after several weeks of mounting international tension. Sir Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat who was the defence minister leading the review until the government reshuffle this month, said that cheaper alternatives to replacing Trident are being considered. When questioned about the loss of jobs possibly associated with a “step down the nuclear ladder,” Harvey argued, “The idea that you should produce weapons of mass destruction in order to keep 1,500 jobs going in the Barrow shipyard is palpably ludicrous. We could give them all a couple of million quid and send them to the Bahamas for the rest of their lives , and the world would be a much better place, and we would have saved a lot of money.”

ACLU takes CIA to court over use of drones
The American Civil Liberties Union went to court in an attempt to get the CIA to hand over documents related to President Barack Obama’s controversial “targeted killing” programme that uses unmanned drones to strike suspected Islamic militants.

US law schools say drone attacks in Pakistan are counterproductive
According to a study
by Stanford and New York universities’ law schools, the CIA’s programme of “targeted” drone killings in Pakistan is politically counterproductive, kills large numbers of civilians, and undermines respect for international law.

Belgian Peace activists hinder departure of F16 airplanes to NATO nuclear weapons exercise
From 15 to 26 October, Belgian F-16s from the military base of Kleine Brogel participated in the NATO-exercise “Steadfast Noon” in the German air base of Büchel. This exercise is a way of training for the deployment of nuclear weapons. Peace activists used non-violent means to try and stop the departure of the airplanes.

Nuclear resistors speak out in court
On 9 November 2012 ten nuclear resisters associated with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington, appeared in court.  The ten had participated in a nonviolent direct action along with six other individuals on 6 August 2012.  The sixteen resisters engaged in a rolling blockade of the main entrance to the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base in Silverdale, Washington.  In speaking to the resisters’ appearance in court, Leonard Eiger, communications coordinator for Ground Zero said, “We were there [in the courtroom] to speak on the public record as to our government's obligations to make sincere efforts toward nuclear disarmament, something that is not occurring based on the evidence, and is pushing the world (once again) toward the inevitable accidental or intentional nuclear war.” Their statements are available here.

WILPF members protest a test launch of a Minuteman III missile
On 14 November, the US Air Force test launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at 3:07 AM. WILPF and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation held a protest on 13 November to call for cessation of testing and decommissioning of the missiles.

 Recommended Reading

Michal Shmulovich, “Hiroshima survivors silence Israelis with personal tales of the bomb that ‘keeps killing’,” The Times of Israel, 16 September 2012

Suvrat Raju and M.V. Ramana, “Where the mind is full of fear,” The Hindu, 19 September 2012

Jim Rocco, “Don't change N-liability law to suit MNCs,” The Times of India, 23 September 2012

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on receiving Seoul Peace Prize, 29 October 2012