Reaching Critical Will (RCW) is the Disarmament Programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). RCW seeks to achieve disarmament, challenge militarism, and confront violent masculinities and gender discrimination through research, policy analysis, advocacy, monitoring, and reporting on international forums such as the United Nations and other meetings of governments and organisations, and through international civil society networks and campaigns.
In 2018, the programme has done the following:
- Capacity-Building: Published a resource guide about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) for the WILPF network in order to enable and equip WILPF members and sections to continue advocating for the Treaty, particularly its entry into force; co-facilitated a one-day training for disarmament diplomats in Geneva on how to include a gender perspective in their work.
- Advocacy: As an active member of the entry-into-force group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), RCW regularly meets with member states to encourage signature and ratification of the TPNW, as well as provide technical information or assistance. In 2018, RCW assisted in organizing a signing ceremony during the UNGA High Level opening in September in which seven countries signed the Treaty and four ratified it. We advocated for the inclusion of gender perspectives in the outcome document of the Third Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, and in resolutions of the UN First Committee. RCW is a vocal proponent of a ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems and continued to call out hypocrisy on the part of states; notably around arms transfers that are incompatible with the Arms Trade Treaty and the unwillingness of nuclear-armed states to disarm. In all of these fora, RCW has continued to push for a comprehensive gender perspective. This does not only include a call for increasing women’s representation in these fora, as well as addressing the gendered impact of different weapon systems, but to also advance a more holistic, non-binary gender and power analysis that challenges dominant patriarchal dynamics across all disarmament efforts.
- Movement-Building: WILPF, represented by Reaching Critical Will, is a part of the leadership bodies of three global disarmament coalitions: the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW). It contributes to the strategic development and growth of these coalitions in a variety of ways; for example, in 2018 RCW organized a survey for ICAN partner organizations to facilitate wider input into the campaign’s strategic planning and be a mechanism for sharing concerns and questions. RCW also helped to assess small grant applications received by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
- The broader WILPF movement is becoming increasingly involved in the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, with many African sections organizing national activities. WILPF Cameroon’s president Sylvie Ndongmo participated in the UN meetings on killer robots, and brought experiences from the ground to the international level. Following Sylvie’s participation in the UN meetings, WILPF Cameroon also launched a national campaign against killer robots.
- RCW continued to contribute to NGO efforts to raise awareness about the humanitarian impact of drones.
- WILPF is also part of a larger coalition of peace organisations carrying out the campaign Divest from the War Machine, which aims to persuade individual investors, financial institutions, and educational institutions to remove their investments in companies that are profiting from US military spending. Part of this is an initiative by local ICAN campaigners in New York City, including Reaching Critical Will, to encourage the divestment of the city’s pension funds from nuclear weapon producers. Working with city council members and unions, this initiative is part of global Don’t Bank on the Bomb efforts to ensure divestment from nuclear weapons in accordance with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
- Facilitated civil society involvement in UN conferences: RCW acted as the UN-NGO liaison for the 2018 conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the UNGA First Committee, helping other civil society groups to access the conferences and ensuring that all those pursuing initiatives to facilitate disarmament can engage with governments at the international level. In addition, RCW helped to organize civil society input to the UNSG’s Disarmament Agenda, published in 2018.
- Action-oriented research: Published the report Assuring destruction forever: 2018 edition which explores the ongoing or planned nuclear weapon modernization of the nuclear-armed states parties to the NPT. It shows that these states’ activities are counter to their obligations under international conventions, and contributes to the stigmatization of militarism and war among the public, civil society organisations and diplomats. RCW also published two briefing books prior to two major UN disarmament conferences; the 2018 NPT Briefing Book , and the First Committee 2018 briefing book. The comprehensive briefing books provide an overview of the current state of play with respect to both meetings. The documents reach a wide audience of civil society organisations and diplomats and function as one of many avenues to work for disarmament and gender analyses in disarmament efforts.
- Monitoring and analysis: In 2018 RCW provided monitoring and analysis of several multilateral disarmament fora, such as meetings of the the Arms Trade Treaty, the UNPoA, the NPT, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, its Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapon systems (“LAWS”), and the UNGA First Committee. RCW’s reports are read widely by diplomats, UN staff, and other civil society organizations and constitute a valuable contribution to the community. We post statements and documents in real-time during conferences and provide an online archive for future research.
- Together, we also worked with RCW to monitor the general debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly for gender and disarmament issues. You can find our gender-militarism analysis here>>
Follow the work of WILPF's Disarmament Programme at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/