September 2022 E-News
The last two months have been busy for the disarmament community. At the end of July, the Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapons held its final formal meeting for 2022. In the same week, the UN's Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) met in New York. Following that, the Tenth Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) took place over the month of August, while in the last week of the month, states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) held their eighth conference. This in turn was followed by the Tenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
In some of these forums, no progress was achieved. For instance, the GGE on autonomous weapons struggled to adopt a report that, in the end, barely had any substantive content, while the NPT Review Conference failed to adopt any outcome at all. These failures are striking against the current backdrop of multiple armed conflicts, rising military spending, attacks against nuclear power plants, and threats to use nuclear weapons. It is imperative that the disarmament community finds new ways to make progress towards disarmament and demilitarisation. Building our future through collective actions and investments not in weapons but in collective care for each other and the planet must be our shared goal.
In this edition:
- Current and upcoming disarmament meetings
- Recently concluded disarmament meetings
- Growing support for the TPNW
- New study on the effects of nuclear winter
- International day against nuclear tests
- The Vow from Hiroshima” screening at Scandinavia House
- RIMPAC Series for Feminist Peace Initiative/Foreign Policy In Focus
- Resources about autonomous weapons
- New book: Abolishing State Violence: A World Beyond Bombs, Borders, and Cages
- Mobilising Men for Feminist Peace
- Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month
- Upcoming events
- Featured news
- Recommended reading
Open-Ended Working Group on Space Threats
The second substantive session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Space Threats (OEWG) is on now from 12 to 16 September 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. Earlier this month, Project Ploughshares published a recap of what happened in the first session of the group that took place in May 2022. According to the organisation, “while the first meeting of the OEWG rehashed many long-standing debates, it also suggested opportunities for complementarities and convergence, and reflected a pervading sense of common purpose.” During the meeting that is taking place this week, states will have to balance the interests of some that are in favour of regulating military behaviours that might lead to accidents and escalating conflict dynamics, and others that prefer a ban on activities and capabilities linked to weapons and warfighting. You can check the UN website for conference documents, statements and other information relating to the work of the OEWG.
UN General Assembly high-level debate
The 77th UN General Assembly high-level debate will take place from 20–27 September 2022 in New York. Reaching Critical Will will be monitoring the meeting and tracking references to disarmament and militarism for its country-based index.
UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security
The 77th Session of the First Committee is scheduled to meet 3 October–4 November 2022 in New York. RCW will publish the First Committee Briefing Book ahead of the session and will issue weekly reports during the conference. You can subscribe to our First Committee Monitor to receive these materials.
Signing ceremony for explosive weapons declaration
On 18 November, Ireland will host a high-level international conference in Dublin to adopt the Political Declaration on strengthening the protection of civilians from the humanitarian consequences arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Consultations on this declaration concluded in June 2022. Ahead of the ceremony, on 17 November, the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) will host a Civil Society Forum in Dublin, as well as a Global Day of Action on 18 October. Details from INEW will be available soon.
Autonomous weapons Group of Governmental Experts
On 25–29 July, the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on autonomous weapon systems met for its second and last formal session of 2022. The final draft, which was adopted at the end of Friday’s meeting, was stripped of its substantive content, leaving the Group with nothing to show for all the hard work undertaken this year. In addition, the mandate for next year’s GGE has simply been rolled over from this year, despite the demand from most delegations for a concrete commitment to elaborate proposals or negotiate a new protocol. Find out the details of what transpired with Reaching Critical Will's CCW Report and find documents and available statements on our website.
UN cyber working group
The UN's Open-ended Working Group on information and communications technologies (ICTs) met from 26–29 July in New York. It adopted an annual progress report, which captures proposals that have been made by member states to date and also sets out several recommended next steps to guide its work going further. Check out our resource page for the OEWG, and catch up on the meeting by reading the latest edition of our Cyber Peace & Security Monitor.
2022 NPT Review Conference
The Tenth Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference met from 1–26 August 2022 in New York. As reported in the last edition of our NPT News in Review, the Conference did not adopt its final report due to Russia's objections to several paragraphs. The final draft was weak on nuclear disarmament and many other issues of great importance, but other states were willing to accept it in order to achieve some kind of tangible outcome.
RCW and many other organisations criticised the outcome of the meeting and questioned the NPT’s credibility as a framework for nuclear abolition. Survivors of the 1945 atomic-bombing of Hiroshima have also expressed disappointment and anger, and pledged states to continue their efforts to convey the inhumanity of nuclear arms.
Eighth Conference of States Parties to the ATT
The Eighth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (CSP8) took place in Geneva from 22–26 August 2022. Control Arms published daily reports of the discussions. You can access conference documents and other resources on our website or on the website of the ATT Secretariat.
Tenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions
The 10th Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions took place in Geneva from 30 August–2 September 2022. You can find all relevant information including agenda, conference documents, and the final report at the Cluster Munition Coalition website. For highlights about the overall progress of the Convention in the areas of stockpile destruction, clearance, risk education, victim assistance, support for mine action, visit the Cluster Munition Monitor 2022.
The failure of the NPT Review Conference in achieving an outcome document contrasts with the important steps taken by states at the First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in June this year. As stated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “states parties to the TPNW did in three days what the NPT failed to do in one month: adopt a credible plan to advance disarmament, help victims of nuclear use and testing, and condemn any and all threats to use nuclear weapons.”
With the NPT in crisis, the support for the TPNW is growing as a capable framework for implementing nuclear disarmament obligations. The cities of Frederick, USA and Thessaloniki, Greece recently joined the ICAN Cities Appeal. If you want to learn more about the TPNW and how it’s changing the world, you can check a recent podcast about the subject and many other resources available at the ICAN website.
A new study published in Nature Food has explored the climate change and global famine that would follow even a limited nuclear exchange. Built on the foundation of decades of research, the study shows that even a limited war between Pakistan and India that uses just three percent of the world’s nuclear weapons could kill a third of the Earth’s population.
“Global food insecurity and famine from reduced crop, marine fishery and livestock production due to climate disruption from nuclear war soot injection” reveals that the massive explosion from nuclear bombs injects huge amounts of soot and debris into the atmosphere, which would have devastating the implications for the environment. If you want to hear more about the effects of nuclear winter and the actions taken to avoid it, you can check this podcast episode that features a conversation with members from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
The International Day against Nuclear Tests, which took place on 29 August, served as a good occasion to remember the horrifying effects of nuclear tests in populations around the world. Survivors still experience the impacts of these tests and continue in their fight for justice for their communities. You can hear survivors' stories and learn about the lasting repercussions of nuclear testing at this resource made available by ICAN. (Photo: Karipbek Kuyukov, ICAN).
On 19 September 2022 the film “The Vow from Hiroshima” will be screened at Scandinavia House in New York. The movie portraits the life of Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Her moving story, from the ruins of Hiroshima to the Nobel Peace Prize, is told through the lens of her growing friendship with second-generation survivor Mitchie Takeuchi. The session will be followed by a Q&A with Susan Strickler and Mitchie Takeuchi. Tickets can be purchased here.
The Feminist Peace Initiative and Foreign Policy In Focus organised a series featuring critical voices on the militarization of the Asia-Pacific region. The article “The impacts of RIMPAC on Okinawa and Japan,” written by Kozue Akibayashi and Suzuyo Takazato, explores how the latest military exercise exacerbates the patriarchal and racialized defence cooperation between Washington and Tokyo. Another piece titled “The feminist response to RIMPAC and the US war gainst Chine,” written by Christine Ahn, analyses how women leaders across the Asia and the Pacific offer an alternative to great power competition. The series also includes articles on US NATO coordination, South Korea’s expanded military footprint, the US-China arms race, the view from Guam, and the Hawaiian perspective.
Rights of persons with disabilities
With the second session of the GGE taking place at the end of July, and the approaching of the Meeting of High Contracting Parties of the CCW in November, multiple analyses in English and Spanish were published in the last months highlighting the relation of autonomous weapons and the rights of persons with disabilities. Discussions included the right of persons with disabilities to participate in deliberations, military and police violence against these groups, and bias in AI and disability. For more information about these topics, you can check Chapter 11 titled “Armas Autonomas: La inaceptable reproducción de sistemas de opresión en tecnología militar” written by Wanda Muñoz Jaime and Mariana Díaz Figueroa in the publication “Discapacidad, conflicto armado y construcción de paz” (in Spanish).
New website on automated decision research launched
Automated Decision Research is the monitoring and research team of the Stop Killer Robots campaign. The team has recently launched its website, which features a database with states’ positions on autonomous weapons, reports related to the subject, relevant news, and many other resources. The ADR team tracks state support for a legally binding instrument on autonomous weapon systems and conducts research and analysis on responses to autonomy and automated decision-making in warfare and wider society.
At the end of July 2022, Haymarket Books published the latest book by RCW’s Director, Ray Acheson. Connecting movements for social justice with ideas for how activists can support and build on this analysis and strategy, Abolishing State Violence shows that there are many mutually supportive abolition movements, each enhanced by a shared understanding of the relationship between structures of violence and a shared framework for challenging them on the basis of their roots in patriarchy, racism, militarism, settler colonialism, and capitalism.
This book argues that abolition is transformative. It is about defunding, demilitarising, disbanding, and divesting from current structures of violence, but also about imagining new ways to organise and care for each other and our planet, and about building new systems and cultures to sustain ourselves in a more equitable, free, and peaceful way.
Haymarket Books will host an online launch event for the book on Thursday, 29 September at 17:00 EDT. The event will feature Ray Acheson in conversation with David Vine, academic and author of Base Nation and The United States of War.
WILPF’s Militarised Masculinities programme has launched a new project website containing over two dozen research reports, a feature length documentary film chronicling the work being done by WILPF colleagues and partner organisations to counter militarised masculinities in the project’s focus countries—Afghanistan, Cameroon, Colombia and the DRC—as well as four short country specific films, an online photography exhibition containing images generated by WILPF’s inaugural photography competition on militarised masculinities and alternatives to it, as well as a set of blogs describing global, regional, and country specific activism and advocacy. Among the research reports is a piece by RCW’s Director Ray Acheson on “Abolishing Militarised Masculinities”.
The July edition of the Journal DEP. Deportate, esuli, profughe, titled “Do not Get Used to War!”. Voices and Reflections against the War in Ukraine,” focuses on the war in Ukraine, its causes, its conduct, and the outcry it has aroused around the world. In the Research column, scholars from various disciplines and different experiences of activism offer their reflections, reconstruct the history of feminist and ecofeminist pacifism, and insist on the need to place the conflict in a broad context by deferring to a patriarchal world order dominated by military elites and the connectedness of the relations of domination that fuel wars. In the Documents column, an article by Claudia von Werlhof focuses on the characters of the economy in the globalised world and its close connection to war. Finally, in the Testimonies column Sylvie Jaqueline Ndongmo offers an account of the consequences of the food crisis on African women, and Debora Pinzana pays tribute to the resistance and courage of Ukrainian women.
DEP aims to be a place for analysis and reflection on the theme of uprooting from a gendered perspective, as well as a place for collecting and publishing documents, unpublished writings and oral testimonies. You can check this edition and previous ones at the DEP website.
Open-Ended Working Group on Space Threats
12–16 September 2022 | Geneva, Switzerland
UN General Assembly high-level debate, 77th session
20–27 September 2022 | New York, USA
UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, 77th Session
3 October–4 November 2022 | New York, USA
2022 Meeting of High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)
16–18 November 2022 | Geneva, Switzerland
Third Session of the the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction
14–18 November 2022 | New York, USA
Signing ceremony for the Political Declaration on explosive weapons
18 November 2022 | Dublin, Ireland
Ninth Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Review Conference
28 November–16 December 2022 | Geneva, Switzerland
Events and webinars
Workshop on Canada and the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
15 September 2022 | Online
Open lecture with Cynthia Enloe: Is there room for feminism in a time of militarization?
19 September 2022 | Online
The Vow from Hiroshima screening
19 September 2022 | New York, USA
Book Launch Event for Abolishing State Violence: A World Beyond Bombs, Borders, and Cages
29 September 2022 | Online
2022 Innovations Dialogue: AI Disruption, Peace, And Security
20 October 2022 | New York and online
UN Secretary General expresses concern over the situation in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
In a briefing to the Security Council on 6 September, the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Atónio Guterres underlined the need to de-escalate the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. During the NPT Review Conference, states had already highlighted the potential nuclear disaster that could result from the repeated shelling of the power plant. The UNSGwarned that any damage to Zaporizhzhia, or to any other nuclear facility in Ukraine, could result in a wide-reaching catastrophe. He urged Russian and Ukrainian forces to commit not to engage in any military activity towards the plant site or from the plant site and called for an agreement on a demilitarised perimeter.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a 14-member mission to the power plant last week, and in its report the experts called for the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone. On 11 September, the nuclear plant was reconnected to Ukraine’s electricity grid, allowing engineers to shut down its last operational reactor. According to the IAEA, it would take 30 hours to bring the sixth reactor to a “cold shutdown state,” but it will still require electricity for its safety systems after that.
DPRK passes new law about nuclear weapons’ use
The Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) passed a law declaring itself a nuclear weapon state and establishing its right to use “preemptive nuclear strikes” to protect itself. The new law updates a previous norm under which it had said it would keep its weapons only until other countries denuclearised and would not use them preemptively against non-nuclear states. The UN Secretary-General expressed concern over the law and called on DPRK’s leader to resume talks with key parties to achieve sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
69th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement
On 27 July, on the 69th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement, the Korea Peace Appeal Campaign held a press conference near the Presidential Office building calling for a formal end to the Korean War and hostility. On Saturday, 23 July, there was a gathering of a thousand people in Imjingak, calling for a stop to the hostility, a formal end to the Korean War, implementing agreements between the two Koreas and between the US and the DPRK. (Photo: the Korea Peace Appeal Campaign)
The movement protested against the ROK-US combined military exercises, which have increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and urged authorities to make efforts to resume dialogue, not preparation for war. They also called on states to respect and implement the summit agreements between the two Koreas and between the United States and the DPRK.
Recent warnings related to large scale influx of weapons to conflict-affected zones
UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, underscored in a statement to the UN Security Council on 8 September the risks of diversion of weapons sent to conflict-affected zones. Noting the recent increase in the supply of weapons due to the war in Ukraine, Ms. Nakamitsu highlighted that the international community should take due regard to concerns associated with this practice, and encouraged states to make use of mechanisms that enhance transparency in arms transfers. The UN disarmament chief emphasised that beyond the matter of supply, the Security Council should focus on how these weapons are being used, as most of the civilian casualties recorded have been caused by explosive weapons with wide area effects. Ms Nakamitsu echoed the UN Secretary-General’s call on the severe humanitarian impact of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The loss and leakage of equipment due to poor oversight and accountability of weapons were also raised regarding other conflicts around the world. Experts have underscored that the large quantity of weapons, ammunition and equipment provided to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) has had unintended and negative impacts for the security and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The risks of proliferation casts doubts on the effectiveness that the supply of weapons to conflict-affected zones have in solving the conflict and achieving lasting peace.
Airstrikes on Palestine and possible solutions to achieve peace
On 5 August, Israel launched a series of surprise airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, sparking several days of fighting and the worst outbreak of violence since May 2021. By the time a truce was called on 8 August between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, a total of 49 Palestinians had been killed – including 17 children – and more than 300 were injured. 13 Iraeli people sustained minor injuries.
WILPF condemns this latest act of aggression and stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people. “For more than five decades, the people of Palestine have endured intolerable circumstances under Israeli occupation,” says Sylvie Ndongmo, WILPF’s President. “Like all people, Palestinians have the right to live in peace, free from fear and oppression. WILPF will continue to call on the international community to advance a just and sustainable solution to the ongoing conflict and occupation. We believe that a just solution that ensures the full enjoyment of human rights and dignity for the Palestinian people is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region and ensure the well-being of the Palestinian and Israeli people alike.”
To learn more about the current crisis, how it’s disproportionately impacting women, and the role of the international community in enabling a future of peace in the region, you can check this Q&A with Randa Siniora, General Director of the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC), and Hanan Awwad, WILPF’s Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and President of WILPF Palestine.
Organisations underscore concerns over the use of drones for surveillance in border areas
Human Rights Watch and Border Forensics are examining how the shift from sea to air surveillance contributes to the cycle of extreme abuse in Libya. The organisations highlight that since May 2021, the EU border agency Frontex has deployed drones to detect boats close to Libyan coasts. Frontex gives the information from the drone to coastal authorities, including Libya, which intercepts and sends the immigrants back to Libya. The European Union has continued this practice even despite the overwhelming evidence of torture and exploitation of migrants and refugees in Libya, considered crimes against humanity according to the United Nations.
One year since the Pegasus Project, NSO Group’s surveillance technology continues to facilitate human rights violations
In July last year, an investigation revealed that at least 12 of NSO Group’s clients targeted more than 180 journalists in 21 countries with the spyware. In the past year, activists, journalists and world leaders have been silenced by their governments due to the use of this technology. Just a few months ago, on 18 July, Amnesty International published a report identifying thirty people involved with mass protests in Thailand that were targeted by the spyware. Subsequent revelations have shown government use of spyware against political opponents and civil society and journalists in other European countries, notably Greece Poland, and Spain.. Protests against Pegasus were held in Barcelona in early September.
The Israeli surveillance company was placed on a US blacklist last November after determining that the firm had acted “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the US”, and the American government has recently ended talks to acquire the technology. However, organisations affirm that this is not enough and call for a moratorium limiting the export, sale, transfer, servicing, and use of abusive spyware until people’s rights are safeguarded under international human rights law.
Malicious cyber operations strain diplomatic relations between states
A cyber operation that disrupted Albanian online governmental services in July 2022 led the country to sever diplomatic ties with Iran, who it holds as responsible. This is the first time that a state has cut diplomatic relations with another state for a cyber incident. Following Albania’s move, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation offered a statement of support to Albania and its decision. The United States additionally announced sanctions against Iran. Two days after cutting relations, a second cyber operation also attributed to Iran affected an online system that Albania uses to track who enters and leaves the country. Meanwhile, Taiwan is seeking to bolster its resilience to cyber threats from China that could target critical infrastructure, and Russia-linked attackers are being blamed for a massive operation that has taken parts of Montenegro offline.
Germany will increase its military spending to reach NATO’s 2 per cent requirement
Earlier this year, Germany announced setting up a €100 billion special fund to strengthen its military. Now, Germany’s Defence Minister said the country must continue to increase military spending in order to reach NATO’s 2 per cent requirement.
This announcement follows two others made by other European countries recently. In June Spain stated it would increase its military spending from 13 billion euros to 26 billion euros in seven years. France has also taken measures to increase its military spending, as the government recently proposed a 44 billion euros budget for its military in 2023. The proposed amount was announced a few weeks after President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the recent Eurosatory trade conference, in which he declared that France had entered a “war economy” and called on neighbouring nations to support Europe's defence-industrial base before looking abroad.
Press the Button Podcast, “Interview with Ray Acheson and Cynthia Lazaroff about On the Morning You Wake (To the End of the World),” Ploughshares Fund, 12 September 2022
Louise Marie Hurel, “The Rocky Road to Cyber Norms at the United Nations,” Council on Foreign Relations, 6 September 2022
Ray Acheson, “Abolishing Militarised Masculinities,” Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, September 2022
“Westlessness and Different Approaches to Cyber Governance,” The International Spectator's Podcasts, 30 August 2022
“Gender and Diversity in the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM),” UNIDIR, 26 August 2022
Anh V. Vu, Daniel R. Thomas, Ben Collier, Alice Hutchings, Richard Clayton, Ross Anderson, "Getting bored of cyberwar: Exploring the role of the cybercrime underground in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict,"24 August 2022
“Factsheet: Gender and the Arms Trade Treaty,” UNIDIR, 23 August 2022
“Gender Mainstreaming Ammunition Through-Life Management,” Panama, Small Arms Survey and UNIDIR, August 2022.
“Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence 2022 Report,” IANSA, 29 July 2022
Ray Acheson, Abolishing State Violence: A World Beyond Bombs, Borders, and Cages, Haymarket Books, July 2022
RIMPAC Series: Christine Ahn, “The feminist response to RIMPAC and the U.S. war against China,” 38 June 2022; Ann Wright , “US and NATO escalate tensions with asia-pacific war games,”29 June 2022; Choi Sung-hee, “With RIMPAC, South Korea expands its military footprint,” 13 July 2022; Youkyoung Ko, “End the Korean war and stop the US-China arms race,” 14 July 2022; Kim Compoc, Joy Lehuanani Enomoto, “A call to cancel RIMPAC in Hawaiʻi,” 26 July 2022; Kozue Akibayashi and Suzuyo Takazato, “The impacts of RIMPAC on Okinawa and Japan,” 1 August 2022
Ben Donaldson, Elizabeth Minor, Becky Alexis Martin, and Matthew Breay Bolton, “Addressing British nuclear tests in Kiribati”, UNA-UK and Article 36, June 2022