March 2014 E-News

The Reaching Critical Will team has been busy around the world over the last month. We were in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit in February, working hard with many other campaigners from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to gather support for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Our efforts paid dividends, with the Chair of the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons concluding that “Nayarit is the point of no return.” His summary of the conference declared that the discussions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons “should lead to the commitment of States and civil society to reach new international standards and norms, through a legally binding instrument.”

This is exciting news for ICAN and for the world, especially since before the conference began, the government of Austria announced that it would host the next meeting in the humanitarian initiative. The forward momentum provided by this announcement, coupled with the large number of governments calling for a ban on nuclear weapons during the conference, marks a turning point in the process to outlaw and eliminate these weapons of mass destruction.

We have much work to do over the months ahead. Reaching Critical Will is busy preparing for the NPT PrepCom in May, where we will continue to drive forward the focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and demand that states take political and legal action to ensure that the humanity never again has to experience the horrors of the use of nuclear weapons. We are producing our annual NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report, an update to our study on the modernization of nuclear weapon systems, and a paper on a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Stay tuned for the release of these publications over the coming weeks!

In peace,
Ray Acheson, Director

From Nayarit to Vienna

At the second conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, held in Nayarit, Mexico, the international community gathered to examine the horrific consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation and to push for political action. In his summary of the meeting, the Chair called for the development of new international standards on nuclear weapons, including a legally binding instrument. The time has come, he noted, for a diplomatic process to reach this goal, within a specified timeframe, identifying the most appropriate forum and on the basis of a clear and substantive framework. Calling for this process to conclude by the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Chair described Nayarit as “the point of no return”.

Reaching Critical Will has published a full report of the meeting. You can find a collection of statements and presentations from the conference. More information is available through social media, including Twitter (#goodbyenukes, #hinw14, @RCW_, @nuclearban), Facebook (RCW, ICAN),Storify, and goodbyenuk.es.

Stopping killer robots

After our success in Mexico, we headed to London for a civil society strategy meeting of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to bring together campaigners from around the world who are working to prevent the development of fully autonomous weapon systems and to prepare for our engagement in the upcoming meeting of governmental experts in Geneva. The Campaign has released some new video resources, including an information video about where the issue stands politically, and an animated video by Campaign member PAX that demonstrates why we want to stop killer robots.

International Women’s Day

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (IWD), WILPF arranged a workshop with like-minded states and organizations for an informal talk on how to enhance a gender perspective in disarmament. WILPF has since its origin worked to improve gender equality by emphasizing the links between military expenditure, arms trade, violent conflict, and the reduction of available resources for social and economic development. Workshop participants discussed the importance of highlighting the linkages between women, peace and security, disarmament, and development in order to prepare for the development of the post-2015 sustainable development goals. There is an opportunity for this discussion to break down barriers between issues and strive towards having a more holistic approach to peace and development. In addition, it was clear that more facts and figures is needed to paint an accurate picture of what impact weapons have on women’s lives in both conflict and non-conflict settings. Finally, there was a strong call for more education and awareness rising on both international and local level with a broad variation of actors. The IWD discussion will work as a base to map out WILPF’s next steps to­wards strengthening a gender perspective in disarmament and security issues and strengthening the link between human rights and disarmament. We are currently planning a number of upcoming activities, both at multilateral forums relevant to disarmament, women, peace and security, and human rights, and also at a national level with WILPF Sections around the world.

On 11 March, the Conference on Disarmament marked IWD with a civil society statement. Mia Gandenberger of Reaching Critical Will delivered this statement on behalf of WILPF, arguing that preventing human suffering “should be the goal of all the treaties we negotiate. This is not about action plans, programmes of work, or informal working groups. Disarmament treaties should prevent civilian casualties, prevent humanitarian catastrophes, and should prevent armed violence and escalation of armed conflicts.” WILPF called for creativity and courage and urged delegates to “seize the momentum created in other forums and break the deadlock, or move forward productively elsewhere.”

Women’s voices for disarmament and development

The 58th Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) is on now at the UN in New York. WILPF members and staff from around the world have gathered to advocate and educate, particularly on issues related to women’s participation, disarmament, and development. Reaching Critical Will participated in two WILPF related to disarmament, including a panel discussion on disarmament and development and a workshop on nuclear weapons and challenges for achieving the MDGs for women and girls in Africa. Through these events and our advocacy throughout CSW, WILPF is calling for disarmament to be taken up on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda as a key criterion for achieving change.

These events brought together WILPF’s work on women, peace and security; country-specific work on Syria, Bosnia, Colombia, Pakistan, and Nigeria; and our campaigns to secure a meaningful Arms Trade Treaty, a ban on nuclear weapons, and reduction of military spending and militarization. As WILPF SG Madeleine Rees said, militarization justifies violence as a political tool. We must change the narrative from militarization to participation and ensure that women are represented of all levels of decision-making in times of peace and conflict.

NPT: accreditation and more

The Third Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will meet 28 April–9 May 2013 in New York. The chair will be Ambassador Roman-Morey of Peru. Information regarding accreditation and registration, side event room bookings, NGO presentations, and materials distribution can be found on the RCW website, along with a rolling calendar of events.

Please see the information note from the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs on civil society participation for details on accreditation and registration. The deadline for accreditation of organizations has passed. NGOs that have been provisionally accredited to the meeting must pre-register representatives they expect to attend by 11 April 2014. Information on acquisition of grounds passes on acceptance of pre-registration will be provided at a later date. For questions related to accreditation, registration, and issuance of badges, please contact [email protected]">Ms. Soo Hyun Kim at UNODA.

Next week, Reaching Critical Will is launching the 2014 edition of the NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report. Stay tuned for more information on Monday!

Explosive weapons and protection of civilians

On 12 February, the UN Security Council held an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, focusing on implementing the protection aspects of UN peacekeeping mandates. Ahead of this debate, members of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) conducted advocacy with and circulated a briefing paper to UN member states and agencies in order to ensure that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is highlighted as an issue of concern. The debate was an opportunity for states to express support for concrete steps that will curb the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and to provide stronger protection to civilians in the future. A full report is forthcoming from INEW; a variety of countries did highlight this topic as well as a number of other disarmament topics.

Also see this new, powerful video from Save the Children, a fellow member of INEW. It depicts a second a day in the life of a child experiencing war and shows the horrific impacts of bombing and shelling towns and cities.

Private military and security companies: what accountability?

This week in Geneva, WILPF attended a panel organised by the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, focusing on the use of private military and security companies (PMSCs) by the United Nations. The Working Group is aiming to create higher standards of accountability for this industry. Unfortunately, the panel focused on the risks these companies pose to the UN's image and staff, rather than the greater risks that a culture of impunity poses to the civilian populations they are supposed to protect. Read the full report on the WILPF blog.

WILPF 100th anniversary

WILPF’s 100th anniversary is next year! April 2015 in The Hague, women from all over the world will gather to celebrate Women’s Power to Stop War! Show your support by signing our pledge. Hardcopies of the Anniversary Pledge are now ready for you to print and use in English, Spanish, and French, so you can easily collect signatures at your events. Please remember to scan and send us back the copies, so we can input the names on our online list. You can also participate in our free Women’s Power to Stop War Webinar Series, featuring the WILPF Academic Network. Episode 3 is taking place on our 99th anniversary on 28 April 2014, so mark your calendar!

Let us know why support Women’s Power to Stop War in our 100 Women for the 100th series. It’s as easy as taking a photo. Go to our website at to find out what to do! Let us know how you are part of the global movement Women’s Power to Stop War. Tell us about your work on peacemaking, organise an event with us, and connect to hundreds of other activists who are Women’s Power to Stop War. Connect to us at [email protected]">[email protected].

Finally, help us make Women’s Power to Stop War a reality and donate today. We need your support to help women from all over the world get to The Hague, celebrate their history in peacemaking, connect to other activists, and learn about peacemaking from a gender perspective.

Upcoming Events

Conference on Disarmament, Part One
20 January–28 March 2014 | Geneva, Switzerland

UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters
3–5 March 2014 | New York, USA

Global Network 22nd Annual Conference
14–16 March 2014 | Santa Barbara, USA

Nuclear Security Summit
24 March 2014 | The Hague, Netherlands

UN Disarmament Commission
7–25 April 2014 | New York, USA

Intersessional meetings of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and Mine Ban Treaty
7–11 April 2014 | Geneva, Switzerland

Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the NPT
28 April–9 May 2014 | New York, NY

Featured News

Austria to host next step in humanitarian initiative

On 13 February, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz announced that he will host an international conference later this year on nuclear weapons. The conference will discuss how best to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, by design, miscalculation, or accident. Discussions are expected to consider existing and potential ways to address the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

Sentencing for nonviolent Y-12 protestors postponed

The sentencing hearing of Michael Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and Megan Rice was interrupted by wintry weather and final sentencing has been postponed until 18 February. The judge did set restitution at $52,953.00 before the postponement. More details can be found at Transform Now Plowshares.

Human Rights Council to discuss armed drones

Pakistan has tabled a proposal in the Human Rights Council to have a discussion about the use of armed drones in counter-terrorism and military operations.

Recommended Watching

Check out these great videos:

ICAN: The urgency of banning nuclear weapons >>

Save the Children: A second a day >>

PAX: Killer robots >>

Campaign to Stop Killer Robots: Engaging in the CCW >>