The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) has just ended. With its conclusion, hope for real action, real transparency, and real accountability by “world leaders” to address the climate crisis has dwindled. The lack of meaningful agreements at COP26 are a symptom of a system that relies on itself to fix the problems it created.
However, as WILPF has argued in a recent blog, “greening” the institutions that are maintaining the status quo, such as the military-industrial complex, is not the solution to the ecological crisis. The solutions lie in uprooting the system. The solutions lie in demilitarisation, disarmament, decolonisation, and decarbonisation. While COP26 has not delivered on its promises, it offered the opportunity to show the strength of a diverse and ever growing grassroots movement, coming together to sketch out the way ahead. Let us all make sure this movement keeps on growing, so that we reach the tipping point to flip the system.
In this edition
- Upcoming disarmament meetings
- Final round of UN meetings on killer robots in 2021
- UN meeting on cyber security
- CCW Review Conference
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty confirmed to go ahead in January
- UN First Committee on Disarmament and International Security concluded for 2021
- WILPF joins call for including the military in climate agreements but urges that it cannot be greenwashed
- WILPF Sections raise awareness about links between militarism and environment
- Join the global campaign calling for a ban on killer robots!
- Humanitarian Disarmament Forum concludes its year-long collective learning journey
- Antinuclear community continues to mobilise
- WILPF submits views on human rights, youth, and firearms
- Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the Month
- Upcoming events
- Featured news
- Recommended reading
The UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on autonomous weapon systems (AWS) will convene for its third and final round of meetings in Geneva from 2–8 December. After more than six years of discussions, states will agree on recommendations for a new mandate for the GGE next year. These recommendations will be adopted (or not!) at the upcoming CCW Review Conference, to take place from 13–17 December. WILPF, as part of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, hopes that the new mandate will include the start of negotiations for a legally binding instrument to prevent the development and use of killer robots.
The meeting will again be webcast via UNWebTV, and RCW will monitor and report remotely. If you would like to participate in-person, please contact disarm(a)wilpf.org, and we can help get WILPF members registered. If you want to stay up-to-date, make sure to subscribe to RCW’s Conventional/emerging technologies of violence reports.
The first session of the UN’s second Open-ended working group (OEWG) on cyber issues will meet in New York from 13–17 December 2021. The programme of work and other modalities have been outlined in a recent letter from the Chair. RCW will provide coverage of the meeting through its Cyber Peace & Security Monitor and offer substantive contributions through written and oral inputs. In advance of the OEWG substantive session, WILPF will co-host a closed workshop with Canada and UNIDIR to strategise on how to continue advancing gender within the UN cyber processes.
The CCW Review Conference will take place from 13–17 December in Geneva. Governments review implementation of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons every five years. States will discuss a range of conventional weapons, including explosive weapons in populated areas, incendiary weapons, mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPM), and autonomous weapons systems (AWS). With respect to AWS, the RevCon will adopt a new mandate for its Group of Governmental Experts (GGE). If you want to get a sense of what to expect, you can read RCW’s CCW Report of the CCW’s Preparatory Committee that took place over three days in early September.
Reaching Critical Will will provide full coverage of the conference through its CCW Report. It will provide analysis and advocacy, and highlights from the expert discussions. Subscribe to receive reports to RCW’s Conventional/emerging technologies of violence reports. On RCW’s website, you can also find statements, documents, archived CCW Reports, and more information.
After many months of uncertainty and various postponements, it is now confirmed: the Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will take place from 4–28 January in New York. It is not yet clear how civil society, including WILPF members, will be able to participate in this meeting. Civil society access at the UN Headquarters in New York has been completely restricted since the start of COVID-19. However, it appears that civil society are able to access the UN as of January 2022, with concrete modalities yet to be confirmed. What this means for the RevCon remains to be seen; we will keep you informed about any updates through RCW’s newsletter, as well as through its website.
Together with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), WILPF has initiated an organisational sign on letter addressed to Ambassador Zlauvinen, president of the RevCon, as well as Disarmament High Representative Izumi Nakamitsu, highlighting the importance of NGO involvement at the UN and calling on them to ensure access for civil society, including holding a Zoom consultation on how to do so, taking into account all necessary health precautions. If your organisation wishes to join the over 90 organisations already signed on, please write to info (a) icanw.org as soon as possible.
Ahead of the NPT Review Conference, RCW will publish its usual 2022 NPT briefing book (see the 2020 edition here) as well as release an updated edition of our report on nuclear weapon modernisation, Assuring destruction forever (see the 2020 edition here)—so stay tuned!
The 76th session of the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security concluded its five-week long session on 5 November. RCW monitored the meeting, and, together with other experts in the disarmament field, published its weekly First Committee Monitor. If you are interested in what states discussed and agreed upon on all things disarmament, from killer robots and nuclear weapons to small arms, be sure to head over to our website.
WILPF joined the Conflict and Environment Observatory’s (CEOBS) call for action urging parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement to commit to reducing their militaries’ greenhouse gas emissions. The call is endorsed by 215 organisations, and counting. Similarly, a petition by World Beyond War has gathered over 26,500 signatures, calling for an end to the exclusion of military pollution in climate agreements.
To close the military emissions gap, CEOBS just launched its new website www.militaryemissions.org, tracking government’s reporting, or lack thereof, of their military emissions.
WILPF welcomes that the military’s environmental impacts are increasingly brought out of the shadows, and into the spotlight. There are, however, significant risks of governments and military alliances legitimising their continued existence as violent, patriarchal, and oppressive institutions by following the latest trend of going green, as we explained in this blog post published on 6 November 2021, the annual International Day for the Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
As COP26 has come to an end, WILPF members and colleagues from CODEPINK thatparticipated in events in Glasgow will discuss on 21 November outcomes of this COP, and explore how feminist peace can be centred in climate justice. Learn more and register to join the event here.
WILPF Germany will be hosting a workshop on the links between climate justice and disarmament on 27 and 28 November. For more information and registration, head to WILPF Germany’s website.
In October, WILPF members from across the globe explained how militarism and the climate crisis are interconnected in the contexts they are working on, and shared their lived experience and resistance to militarism in a webinar hosted by RCW.
Stop Killer Robots, in collaboration with Amnesty International, has launched a massive global campaign to raise public awareness about killer robots, and to pressure the international community to take action. It is an opportunity to show decision-makers that the world is watching. If you haven’t joined yet, make sure you join in! There is a campaign support pack, which includes a filter for Instagram and Facebook, as well as a global petition.
In 2020, Stop Killer Robots was awarded the Ypres Peace Prize. The Campaign’s staff team now accepted the prize in Belgium, on behalf of campaigners from around the world. Stop Killer Robots was awarded this prize by the young people of Ypres.
WILPF Sections continue to spread the message in other ways, too. WILPF Cameroon recently hosted a webinar, focusing on the links between human rights and emerging technologies. It also raised awareness about killer robots on the International Day of Peace, which resulted, amongst others, in a TV feature.
The third part of the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum 2020–2021 took place in November, the final formal stage of the year-long collective learning journey on racism and intersectionality that was started in October 2020. Stop Killer Robots and Soka Gakkai International have hosted the discussions, and we hope it is just the beginning of an ongoing commitment from the humanitarian disarmament community.
We welcome Chile as the 56th state party to the TPNW, having ratified 23 September this year. It is also welcome that non-state parties such as Norway, as the first NATO member, as well as Switzerland, Finland, and Sweden, have announced their intention to participate at the first Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as observers. As the antinuclear community is eagerly awaiting 1MSP, set to take place in March 2022, a flurry of activities continues to keep us all busy.
A new Don’t Bank on the Bomb report Perilous profiteering: The companies building nuclear arsenals and their financial backers details how 338 financial institutions made $685 billion available to 25 nuclear weapon producing companies from China, France, India, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. The joint report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and PAX unveils the good news that fewer banks are investing in the companies behind nuclear weapons. However, more money is getting invested in total.
ICAN Australia recently hosted a forum on the proposed AUKUS nuclear submarine deal with perspectives from Indonesia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. ICAN Australia also published a short briefing note highlighting its concerns with the deal and calling on Australia to assure it will not acquire, host or assist with the use of nuclear weapons by joining the TPNW.
For the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September, activists around the globe organised actions to raise awareness about the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, calling for their abolition. For example, the ‘Bikes not Bombs’ cycling tour was part of the Nuke Free Europe campaign month with actions and demonstrations in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. On the same day, WILPF Spain launched its new campaign “10 reasons to join the TPNW,” calling, jointly with many other Spanish organisations, on the Spanish government to join the TPNW.
WILPF submits views on human rights, youth, and firearms
WILPF turned in a submission to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) in October that examines the human rights impact of firearms possession, acquisition, and use on youth. The submission was made in response to a call for inputs issued by the UNOHCHR, following the adoption of Human Rights Council resolution 45/13 on human rights and the regulation of civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms.
WILPF's submission was led by the disarmament and human rights programmes, but features inputs from WILPF Sections and partners working on and/or living in Colombia, Cameroon, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Palestine, and Syria on the topic of children and youth and firearms. Additional input was received from an informal partner organisation in Italy, and partners to WILPF’s project “Countering Militarised Masculinities, Mobilising Men for Feminist Peace.”
The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy and WILPF Germany, with financial support from the Heinrich Böll Foundation has launched a new policy brief: 'How militarised is Germany's foreign policy?'
By providing an analysis of Germany’s foreign and security policy priorities, decision-making processes, and multilateral engagement from a feminist perspective, this policy brief identifies entrenched militarisation in Germany’s foreign and security policy. It also provides concrete actionable recommendations that can be taken by the German government.
Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of States Parties
22-25 November, Geneva and online
Second session on the establishment of a Middle East WMD-free zone
29 November–3 December, New York
Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapon systems
2–8 December, Geneva and online
Cyber Stability Conference
3 December 2021, Geneva and online
First substantive session of the second OEWG on ICTs
13–17 December, New York and online
CCW Sixth Review Conference
13–17 December, Geneva and online
2022 NPT Review Conference
4–28 January, New York and online
Webinars and campaigns
Nonviolence in Action–online conference
20–28 November, online
16 days of activism against gender-based violence
25 November–10 December, global
Peace, disarmament and climate justice: connecting the dots
27–28 November, online
World Nuclear Survivors Forum
2–3 December, online
Progressing cyber accountability: The private sector, NGOs and the UN
7 December, online
Activists protest UK arms fair
Activists protested the Liverpool arms fair that took place from 11–13 October at the Liverpool Council’s owned ACC exhibition center. One of the actions saw eight activists attempt to breach the arena in a bid to halt the Electronic Warfare Event, one of the foremost exhibitions for military weaponry and equipment in Europe. The event has been criticised by Amnesty International and other human rights groups for their role in supplying Saudi Arabia with armaments. Among its ‘European Rotation’ of host countries are Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, and the UK.
Google and Amazon workers speak out against their employers’ “Project Nimbus” with Israel
Employees of Google and Amazon have joined forces to call on both companies to pull out of “Project Nimbus,” which is set to provide cloud services to Israel’s government and military. The employees warn that this technology has the potential to be “used to harm Palestinians.”
Israeli spyware company is added to US trade blacklist
The Israeli company NSO Group behind the controversial Pegasus spyware has been added to a US trade blacklist. Pegasus has reportedly been used by states to target the phones of rights activists and journalists. The US has now put NSO Group on its "entity list", banning business dealings with them. NSO Group said it was "dismayed" by the decision, adding that its technology helped maintain US national security by "preventing terrorism and crime".
Moruroa Files & Toxique wins the 2021 DIG Award for best investigative journalism and is nominated for the Albert Londres Prize
The Moruroa Files & Toxique have won the 2021 2021 DIG Award for best investigative journalism in short video format. The video summarises the results of a two-year study on the human consequences of French nuclear weapon testing in the Pacific. The DIG Awards
recognise outstanding international video and audio investigations of the past year. Over 200 hundred entries competed for this year's awards in 6 categories. The study has also been nominated for the prestigious French Albert Londres Book Prize.
Norway’s largest pension fund divests from nuclear weapons-linked companies
Norway’s largest pension company sold holdings totaling $147 million in companies including Raytheon Technologies and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc due to their links to nuclear weapons production. Kommunal Landspensjonskasse, or KLP, divested about $123 million in shares and $24 million in bonds in 14 weapons companies.
New ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan after worst escalation since 2020
A Russian-brokered cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia appears to be holding after at least eight troops were killed in the worst escalation between the south Caucasus neighbors since a 44-day war last year. Tensions remain high between Azerbaijan and Armenia after last year’ that killed over 6,000 troops on both sides.
Iran and IAEA reach nuclear monitoring agreement but IAEA says Iran fails to fully honour commitments
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Iran has failed to honour the terms of an agreement from 12 September, to allow the IAEA’s inspectors to service monitoring equipment in the country. The IAEA’s director general stressed that Iran’s decision not to allow agency access to the TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop is contrary to the agreed terms of the joint statement. Iran's envoy to IAEA said that the director general's report is not accurate and goes beyond the agreed terms of the joint statement. The IAEA also reported that Iran has increased its uranium stockpile further, days before talks in Vienna are set to resume. The agreement was considered a minimal requirement for a resumption of talks in Vienna on trying to restore compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which the former US president abandoned in 2018.
Landmine Monitor 2021: Global casualties from anti-personnel landmines exceptionally high in 2020
According to the Landmine Monitor 2021, the number of victims rose by 20 per cent in 2020 compared with the previous twelve months, which the Monitor finds to be the result of “increased armed conflict and contamination” of land with improvised mines. In total, more than 7,000 people were killed or injured in 54 countries and areas, with Syrians and Afghans worst-hit. The report assesses the international community’s response to the global landmine situation.
Obituary: Paying tribute to Sister Rice’s lifelong commitment to antinuclearism
Calling attention to the funding, possession and refurbishment of nuclear weapons was the capstone of Sister Rice’s lifelong commitments to education and anti-nuclearism, which took her from rural classrooms in Nigeria to desert peace marches in Nevada. Her antinuclear activism led to a conviction, spending two years in prison and helped inspire other activists and works of journalistic nonfiction. Sister Rice died 10 October at the residence of her religious order. She was 91 years old.
US accuses Russia of ‘dangerous’ behavior after anti-satellite weapons test
The United States has accused Russia of “dangerous and irresponsible behavior” after it conducted an anti-satellite weapons test that threatened the lives of the seven astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS). Russia fired a missile at one of its own satellites, generating more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of pieces of smaller debris, which the US said “now threaten the interests of all nations”. Russia has admitted to destroying one of its satellites during a missile test but rejected US accusations that it had endangered the ISS.
David Vine, “Not just about subs, AUKUS expands US military footprint in Australia, too,” Responsible Statecraft, 20 September 2021
David Vine, Patterson Deppen, and Leah Bolger, “Drawdown: Improving US and global security through military bases closures abroad,” Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, 20 September 2021
“Strengthening the connection between small arms and light weapons controls and the Women, Peace, and Security agenda,” International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), September 2021
Violencia de género con armas de fuego, Intersecta and other organisations, October 2021
Rosanagh Fuller, Robyn Harris, and Marissa Conway, “Finding feminism in nuclear policy,” The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, October 2021
“No safe recovery: The impact of explosive ordnance contamination on affected populations in Iraq,” Humanity & Inclusion, October 2021
Podcast: Feminist peace with Ray Acheson, Material Girl$, 5 October 2022
Webinar: Feminist resistance: Climate change and militarism, WILPF, 11 October 2021
Nick Buxton, “Primer on climate security: The dangers of militarising the climate crisis,” Transnational Institute, 12 October 2021
Nic Maclellan, “AUKUS disrupts ‘a very peaceful part of planet earth,” Inside Story, 14 October 2021
Anastasiya Kazakova and Jeffrey Esposito with Allison Pytlak, Podcast: Community conversations on gender equity in cyber security, Kaspersky, 10 November 2021
Mark Sullivan, “Silicon Valley wants to power the U.S. war machine,” Fast Company, 1 November 2021
“Nuclear? No thanks! Civil society groups join global call for a renewable energy future,” Australian Conservation Foundation, November 2021
Verónica Ferrari et al., Promoting stakeholder engagement at the Open-Ended Working Group on ICTs: Operationalising para.4 of the UNGA resolution (A/RES/75/240), various organisations, November 2021