March 2013 E-News

The last month has been an extremely busy one for Reaching Critical Will, and the month ahead looks even more extreme. So far in March we have participated in a civil society forum and intergovernmental meeting in Oslo, Norway on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. These meetings provided a much needed shot of energy and inspiration to the nuclear weapons debate, helping build momentum for the ban on nuclear weapons that is so long overdue. In anticipation of these meetings, we published Unspeakable suffering, a report on the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons that covers economic, developmental, environmental, health, and other effects of these weapons of terror.

We have also been preparing for the next found of Arms Trade Treaty negotiations, which begin on 18 March in New York, and the next preparatory committee for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be held from 22 April to 3 May in Geneva.

For the ATT, we have provided suggested language on how to close some of the loopholes in the draft treaty text; campaigned vigorously for a stronger provision on preventing armed gender-based violence; and are preparing for daily monitoring and analysis during the nine days of negotiations. The upcoming negotiations provide a final chance to get it right with the ATT, to make sure that the treaty is an effective tool to prevent human suffering and NOT to facilitate the arms trade or legitimize the arms industry.

More information on some of the campaigns and initiatives RCW is working on can be found below. We hope to see you at some of our stops along the way!

In peace,
Ray Acheson, RCW Director

In this edition:

Oslo 2013: A humanitarian perspective on nuclear weapons

For one week in Oslo, Norway, nuclear weapons were examined from a humanitarian perspective by civil society, governments, and international organizations. The discussion was instrumental in reframing the discourse around nuclear weapons, focusing on the direct humanitarian consequences of their use rather than on myths of their alleged value for state “security”.

From 2-3 March, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) hosted a Civil Society Forum to demonstrate that the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapon use would be unacceptable and to inspire each other and states to begin the work of outlawing these weapons. 450 people from 70 countries participated in the Forum.

The government of Norway then hosted an international conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons from 4-5 March.The meeting was a huge success, with the participation of 127 governments, UN agencies, international organizations, and civil society. The historic conference concluded with the announcement of a follow-up meeting to be hosted by Mexico.

Check out Reaching Critical Will’s report on the government conference. The report contains an analysis of the conference's importance, highlights from government and other interventions, a brief overview of the Civil Society Forum, and lists some additional resources.

Other resources include:


ATT Take 2: Another chance for a strong arms trade treaty

At the end of July 2013, many people—diplomats, civil society activists, UN staff—went home disappointed. After six years of preparatory work, negotiations had failed to produce a robust treaty to regulate international transfers of conventional weapons. When negotiations begin again on Monday, 18 March, we’ll have a second chance to get it right. We must seize this opportunity to develop a treaty that will truly make an impact on armed violence.

WILPF will be advocating for the closure of many significant loopholes that exist in the current draft treaty text. Among many things, we are doing focused on work on strengthening the treaty’s provisions on gender-based violence—please sign on our online petition and check out our resources! We have provided suggestions on a number of other aspects of the treaty text as well.

During the March negotiations, Reaching Critical Will will again be producing the daily ATT Monitor. Sign up now to ensure you receive this valuable resource during the conference.


International Women’s Day Seminar 2013

On Monday, 11 March, WILPF held a seminar on ‘Preventing Gender-Based Violence through the Arms Trade Treaty’ in Geneva to mark the occasion of International Women’s Day. Representatives from governments, international organizations, and civil society discussed how to strengthen the language on gender-based violence (GBV) in the current draft ATT text in order to ensure that the treaty is an effective tool for preventing armed GBV in the future.

From WILPF’s perspective, the seminar strengthened the position that GBV has to be included in the ATT. Our recommendations are the following:

  • Gender-based violence must be moved into article 4(2) along with IHL and HR law. It must be subject to transfer prohibitions, not voluntary risk mitigation measures;
  • The preamble of the treaty should include the following sentence: “Recognizing the gendered dimensions and impacts of the arms trade, particularly gender-based violence, and further emphasizing and reaffirming the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding and arms control;” and
  • The term gender-based violence should be used, rather than violence against women. Gender is an internationally accepted term used in UN General Assembly and UN Security Council resolutions. The term “gender-based violence” acknowledges the gender dimensions of armed violence, from the perspective of both the perpetrator and the victim.


WILPF statement to the Conference on Disarmament

On Tuesday, 12 March, the WILPF was once again given the opportunity to deliver a statement to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to mark the occasion of International Women’s Day. We highlighted the need for a strong provision in the Arms Trade Treaty to prevent armed gender-based violence. We also discussed the importance of the humanitarian perspective on nuclear weapons, which was the centre of attention in Oslo.


Open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament

On Thursday 14 March, the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, established through A/RES/67/56, convened an organizational meeting. The meeting elected Ambassador Manuel B. Dengo of Costa Rica as chair of the OEWG. The meeting also adopted tentative dates, the OEWG will meet between 14–24 May, 27–28 June, and 19–30 August 2013. A provisional agenda was also adopted, but included very little detailed information about what the OEWG actually will discuss.

Ambassador Dengo noted that he would hold consultations with all interested parties and would circulate more information closer to the first meetings. 

Representatives of the civil society wishing to participate in the meetings of the open-ended working group shall be registered by their organizations at the following address:

Secretariat of the open-ended working group to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations
Office for Disarmament Affairs, Geneva Branch
United Nations Office at Geneva
Palais des nations, room C-113.1
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: (+41) 22-917-0034
E-mail: moewg-ndn[at]unog.ch
Website: http://www.unog.ch/oewg-ndn

Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

WILPF is a member of the leadership body of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which will be launched in London on 23 April. The founders of this Campaign are convening a day-long conference in London on Monday, 22 April for interested non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Killer robots are weapons with full autonomy would be able to choose and fire on targets without any human intervention.

The aims of the conference are: 1) To increase civil society awareness and understanding of the challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons (killer robots); and 2) To encourage action by civil society to campaign for a ban on their development, production, and use.


NPT PrepCom: register by 12 April

The deadline for accrediting organizations to the PrepCom has passed. All organizations that received positive notification of their accreditation must pre-register their individual participants online through CSO Net by 12 April 2013. See the information note for details.


Upcoming Events

Arms Trade Treaty negotiations
18–28 March 2013 | New York, USA

UN Disarmament Commission
1–19 April 2013 |New York, USA

GGE on outer space transparency and confidence-building measures
1–5 April 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

Meeting of Experts on Amended Protocol II of the CCW
8–9 April 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

GGE on UN Register of Conventional Arms
8–12 April 2013 | New York, USA

Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference
8-19 April 2013 | The Hague, Netherlands

Meeting of Experts on Protocol V of the CCW
10–12 April 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessionals
16–19 April 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

Global Day of Action on Military Spending
17 April 2013

Abolition 2000 Annual General Meeting
17–18 April 2013 | Edinburgh, Scotland

NGO conference on Killer Robots
22 April 2013 | London, UK

Second Session of the NPT Preparatory Committee
22 April–3 May 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

Featured News

NGOs and IGOs prepare for discussion on humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons
Several reports and press releases were prepared by civil society and international organizations ahead of the meetings in Oslo, Norway on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons:
Article 36: Humanitarian impacts of a single weapon detonation over Manchester
ICRC: Use of nuclear weapons: No effective relief would be possible
RCW/WILPF: Unspeakable suffering: the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons

ICAN Civil Society Forum meets in Oslo, Norway
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) convened a Civil Society Forum from 2–3 March in Oslo, Norway. The Forum brought together other 400 activists from 70 countries to discuss how we can finally get rid of the impending humanitarian disaster that is nuclear weapons. Participants heard from scientists, activists, and academics, as well as victims of nuclear detonations. Side events and exhibitions in the market place, as well as guest appearances by Martin Sheen and Reverend John Dear, rounded out an amazing two days of education and fun. The Civil Society Forum provided inspiration to campaigners from around the world to continue working to Ban the Bomb. A full report from the Civil Society Forum will be forthcoming from ICAN.

Dutch banks divest from nuclear weapons
Thanks to the Dutch Fair Banking guide launching a report showing that seven Dutch banks invest more than 1.5 billion Euros in nuclear weapons producers, Rabobank has announced its investment in companies producing Indian nuclear weapons will be reviewed and ended as of 1 March, and Delta Lloyd agreed to divest from nuclear weapons producers.

ICAN Australia releases report on disarming your degree
ICAN Australia has published a report titled Disarm Your Degree, which examines Australian public university investments in nuclear arms makers. The campaign conducted extensive research throughout 2012 using freedom-of-information laws. It was able to confirm that four universities do invest in nuclear weapons producers and 12 do not.

Recommended Reading

Ray Acheson, “Remarks on Ward Wilson’s Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons,” 20 February 2013

Desmond Tutu, “Nuclear weapons must be eradicated for all our sakes,” The Guardian, 4 March 2013

Rebecca Johnson, “The fetishists of nuclear power projection have had their day,” openDemocracy, 8 March 2013

Widney Brown, “Why there is no peace time for women,” CNN, 12 March 2013

Iain Overton, “The dangers of an arms trader's charter? Loopholes and loose language in the Arms Trade Treaty threaten its strength,” Action on Armed Violence, 14 March 2013