The utilization of drones for warfare, both by state and nonstate entities, has engendered the unlawful killing, physical harm, and displacement of millions worldwide, primarily in the Global South. Moreover, the looming specter of autonomous drones being equipped with depleted uranium and directed towards nuclear power plants and critical installations poses catastrophic prospects. To halt this imminent threat, the United Nations must render this alarming tool of fatality and devastation illegal.
The following statement sets forth the demand by organizations in many countries, including international organizations and organizations of faith and conscience, for the United Nations to adopt a Treaty on the Prohibition of Weaponized Drones.
From July 31 to August 3, 2023, the IPB had the pleasure of hosting three hybrid side events during the 2023 NPT Preparatory Committee at the United Nations in Vienna, Austria. These events aimed to foster the understanding of the challenges posed by nuclear weapons in the current political climate and the role of civil society in achieving nuclear disarmament. All three events received in person and online participation and were led by engaging Q&A discussions.
“Nuke Free Europe: Nuclear Sharing and Other Threats”took place on July 31st with speakers Alain Rouy (Mouvement de la Paix, France & IPB vice-President), Ludo de Brabander (Vrede, Belgium), Tom Unterrainer (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK), and Marion Küpker (Association of Reconciliation, Germany), moderated by Emily Molinari (IPB, Germany).
The event was attended by 25 participants in person, as well as 10 who joined on Zoom. Ludo de Brabander opened the session with an introduction to NATO policy and nuclear arms, including perspectives from the Netherlands and Belgium. Alain Rouy followed with a discussion on the dangers of France’s strategic orientation towards military capability strengthening and the disregard demonstrated in President Macron’s announcements regarding nuclear disarmament. Marion Küpker then gave an overview of nuclear sharing in Germany and presented the current campaigns to remove US nuclear weapons from the country. Tom Unterrainer concluded by reflecting on the role of the UK and its relationship with the US, in particular he referred to the stationing of US nuclear weapons and nuclear waste at the Lakenheath airbase, and the risks that nuclear development poses on a national, international and regional level.
This event highlighted the panorama of nuclear sharing within Europe, its ramifications on a global scale, and the imperativeness of nuclear abolition.
On August 2nd, the event “The Role of Nuclear Weapons in a Shifting Geopolitical Landscape” had 10 in person participants and 11 online attendees. The event was moderated by Alessandra Fontanella (IPB, Germany) and commenced with opening remarks by Sérgio Duarte (Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs) on the current geopolitical changes, including the war in Ukraine, China-US competition and the rise of the BRICS.
Kate Hudson (General Secretary of CND, UK) followed with a discussion on the potential positive and negative consequences of these changes on nuclear weapons and the action civil society can take to abolish them. Vanessa Lanteigne (Program Officer for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament) then explored the current projects and campaigns in nuclear arms control and the negative impact of the growing military & nuclear spending on climate change. Stephanie Verlaan (Intern at the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs) brought the event to a close by focusing on youth’s pivotal contribution to nuclear disarmament, entwined with its wider implications within the evolving geopolitical landscape.
This event underscored the imperative of understanding the interplay between global shifts and nuclear weaponry by exploring the multifaceted repercussions of contemporary geopolitical changes, fostering a deeper comprehension of the crucial role civil society, ongoing initiatives, and the youth play in shaping the path towards nuclear disarmament within our evolving world order.
Our final event on August 3rd “Technology, Artificial Intelligence, and Nuclear Weapons” sought to draw attention to how newly developed and developing technologies can or already are being used in military strategy and warfare and the dangers they pose to nuclear security.
The event was attended by 15 participants, including representatives from the U.S Department of State and UNODA, and 19 online participants. It was moderated by Alain Rouy (Mouvement de la Paix, France & IPB vice-President). Dr. Michael Klare (Professor Emeritus at Five Colleges and Author) opened with a comprehensive overview on technology, AI and Nuclear weapons. He discussed how the weaponization of AI and other emerging technologies is increasing the risk of nuclear escalation and highlighted the danger of using automated command and control decision making systems with nuclear weapons. Our second speaker Jürgen Altmann (Physicist and Peace researcher at TU Dortmund University, Germany) explored military-technological Revolutions, military research and development, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and potential military applications. Dr. Altmann concluded by emphasizing the need for a reinvigoration of nuclear arms control.
Given the novelty and significance of this discourse, it is crucial to consider the nexus between AI, technology, and nuclear weapons, especially in light of their pivotal relevance in today’s climate.
Message by Sean Conner, Executive Director, International Peace Bureau (IPB)
2023 World Conference against A and H Bombs
International Meeting – Session III
August 5, 2023
It is fundamentally impossible to have a peaceful and just world without the elimination of all nuclear weapons. The use or threat of use of nuclear arms is a crime against humanity and contrary to international law – the victims of nuclear weapons and testing are the strongest testimony to this fact. We must listen to them and spread their messages the world over – despite their tireless efforts, there are still far too many people who have not heard their firsthand accounts of the horror and destruction of these weapons. Moreover, the mere existence of nuclear weapons hinders efforts to build trust and accountability between nations and prevents true equality on the international stage. Nuclear armed states today can act with impunity and threaten the destruction of our planet to meet their interests at a cost to the rest of the world. Plain and simple, this is terrorism. All while risking war between nuclear-armed states – we know that nuclear deterrence is nothing but a myth – the most dangerous myth.
We must build and expand our coalition to create a wider base and strengthen our actions to pressure global leaders to eliminate these weapons. This is not an issue just for peace activists, but for all activists concerned with the future of our planet and humankind. Furthermore, non-nuclear armed states have a vital role to play in exerting pressure on nuclear-armed states. Activists across the entire world can increase this pressure and encourage our leaders to move away from nuclear destruction and toward a nuclear-free future.
We are honored to share that IPB Executive Director Sean Conner joined the 2023 Nationwide Peace March in Japan, standing in solidarity with the Hibakusha. This march is an integral part of the 2023 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. From August 1 to August 4, together, we march for peace and nuclear disarmament, cherishing the memories of those affected by the tragic consequences of these weapons. Let’s continue striving for a world without nuclear threats.
On July 8-9, 2023, the International Peace Bureauand World BEYOND Warorganized the second edition of the 24-hour Peace Wave, a global event conducted via Zoom. This unique initiative involved live peace actions taking place in various streets and squares worldwide, synchronized with the movement of the sun.
The timing of the Peace Wave coincided with the annual NATO meeting, providing an opportunity for participants to express their opposition to all military alliances. Emphasizing the essence of our mission, the slogan
No to militarization, yes to Cooperation!
captured our commitment to promoting peaceful collaboration.
Throughout the 24-hour period, the Peace Wave traversed numerous locations across the globe, facilitating a diverse range of activities. These included rallies, concerts, artwork creation, blood drives, the installation of peace poles, dances, speeches, and various public demonstrations. The breadth of events underscored the multiple interpretations of the meaning of “Peace” in different regions worldwide.
The Peace Wave served as an extraordinary source of inspiration, reminding individuals of the collective efforts aimed at fostering a safer, improved, and more peaceful world. It brought together like-minded individuals dedicated to this cause, fostering unity and cooperation on a global scale.
A big thank you to all the Regional Coordinatoros, Participants and Supporters who have helped us organizing this incredible Peace Wave!
Major economies gathered for the G7 Summit Meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, from May 19 to May 21, 2023. The G7 leaders reaffirmed their support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and their commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation initiatives. But what’s the real deal?
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Kate Hudson, and the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo), Yasui Masakazu, issued their perspectives on the G7’s meeting and the current state of nuclear disarmament that we are in now. Their insights will give us the other side of the coin and a closer look at the nuclear issue that we are all facing.
Together, we call for a nuclear-free world—the genuine one.
1. Gensuikyo: Statement on the G7 Hiroshima Summit
We Protest against G7 Leaders for Turning their Backs on the Call of the Hibakusha and the PeopleSeeking the Prohibition and Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
By: Yasui Masakazu, Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) on May 21, 2023
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) newest military expenditure data for 2022 shows yet another year of increase in global military spending, up 3.7 percent from 2021 to another all-time high of US$ 2240 billion. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, increases in military spending in Europe and the Western world were certainly expected; however, with the release of this data an important question must be addressed: does the outbreak of war drive increases in military spending, or rather do the incessant, yearly increases in military spending drive conflict and work?
While there is certainly no direct or decisive answer to that question, we have to take this year’s SIPRI data in the context of the geopolitical landscape of the past decades. What is crystal clear from this perspective is that constant increases in military spending have not fostered peace or peace processes in ongoing wars and have not prevented the outbreak of new, larger, and increasingly concerning conflicts such as the war in Ukraine. Likewise, increases in military spending are completely unable to address the various security concerns at the forefront of our societies – from the effects of climate change and environmental degradation to protection from future pandemics and growing inequality and food insecurity in many parts of the world. And of course, the threat posed by countries upgrading their nuclear arsenals combined with increased rhetoric around the threat of the use of nuclear weapons and further expansion of illegal nuclear sharing to Belarus (already present in Western Europe under the US nuclear umbrella) puts our entire planet at risk.
In many other cases, from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Sudan and Burundi, and Japan and China, military expenditure increases have not helped to reduce growing tensions and violence. The United States and the NATO alliance, who together continue to account for the majority of global spending, have in particular been a source of growing global tensions. In the face of recent geopolitical developments, there needs to be an alternative to constant growths in military budgets; there needs to be a resurgence of funding for diplomatic efforts, for the reduction of global tensions, complemented by funding for peace advocacy, peacebuilding, just resolution, and just reconstruction of conflict zones. The current global military expenditure is more than enough to fund not only peace work, but also to address the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), including climate change, poverty, and hunger.
The world cannot continue on the path we are on. The International Peace Bureau, Global Campaign for Military Spending, and our global network of partners reject the logic of global leaders that preparing for war creates peace, we reject the role of the military-industrial complex in fuelling this continued growth, and we reject the view that there is no alternative. We urge the UN General Assembly to organize a special session on disarmament. We will use the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) from 13 April until 9 May to make our message heard and promote peaceful alternatives to militarism and war.
The world’s militaries are responsible for roughly five percent of global Greenhouse Gas emissions, however, their carbon footprint, as well as the various other ways that they contribute to climate breakdown, are rarely scrutinized. Our governments currently spend more than US$2 trillion on militarization, but military expansion is inconsistent with efforts to reach essential emissions targets and will exacerbate, not stem, the climate emergency. War and armed conflict lead, not only to death and destruction but also to environmental devastation and climate breakdown. Although our governments may argue that such “defense” spending is necessary, it will ultimately render us defenseless in the face of the existential threat posed by the climate crisis.
Global heating poses a major and sustained risk to our planet’s climatic cycles and the resultant weather-related disasters often exacerbate existing injustices – and this can lead to conflict for access to land and basic resources, as well as forced displacement. Tackling Climate change must involve dealing with other structural problems such as poverty, economic shocks, and weakened institutions. This is particularly true in regions that have contributed the least to the climate crisis, yet are impacted the most by its devastating consequences.
As well as their carbon footprint, the world’s military structures also contribute to the climate crisis in other key ways:
Crucially, military spending diverts resources away from essential environmental and social spending, including initiatives to slow the speed of climate change, deal with loss and damage, and respond to weather emergencies.
Military structures in the form of national armies, militarized police forces, or private security companies are often deployed to protect the fossil fuel industry. This sector is one of the largest producers of GHG and military protection of it makes it complicit in these emissions.
Although we urgently need to protect our ecosystems from environmental destruction, all too often when environmental activists take steps to safeguard their lands, rivers and seas, they are violently repressed by militarized security structures including the police, private security companies, and, at times, the army.
The nexus between fossil fuel and extractivism, and armed conflict and war is well documented, from the colonial period to the wars of today.
More and more people are being forced from their homes due to extreme weather events brought about by climate change. In the same way that the border security apparatus currently contains people and stops them from reaching safety or seeking asylum, the military will likely be further deployed to keep out those fleeing climate-related disasters.
Moreover, the arms industry, which in many ways is the backbone of militarism, invests significant time and finance in corporate lobbying to advance its own profit-driven agenda. In recent years it has used the climate crisis as an opportunity to position itself as a key player in designing ‘greener’ weapons and has lobbied for more funding to be earmarked for that purpose. This approach prolongs and deepens the logic that drives militarism and war.
Political leadership has focused on hawkish politics and saber-rattling, stoking tension and fear, instead of cultivating international relations based on mutual trust, diplomacy, and cooperation – three components that are essential to tackle the global nature of the climate threat. Funds that could be used to mitigate or reverse climate breakdown, and to promote peaceful conflict transformation, disarmament, and global justice initiatives, are instead being spent on militarizing an already over-militarised world.
We urgently call on governments to:
Change course and focus on rapid, deep cuts to military spending, driving an arms race and fuelling war;
Demilitarize public policy, including policies designed to tackle the climate crisis;
Implement human and common-security-centered policies that protect people and the planet and not the profit-driven agenda of the arms and fossil fuel industries;
Create governance structures and alliances based on mutual trust and understanding, cooperation, and true diplomacy, where conflict is resolved through dialogue, not war.
The opportunity cost of doing otherwise just can’t get any higher.
This year of war in Ukraine has meant a huge boost for militarism and military budgets across the world, especially in countries of the Global North. But at GCOMS we believe the response should be quite the opposite: we should drastically reduce military spending and invest in common & human security instead…
The 12th edition of the Global Days of Action on Military Spending will take place from April 13 to May 9, 2023. Join us in protesting military budgets & warmongering, and take action for peace & justice!
These dates include:
April 18: Tax Day in the USA
April 22: Earth Day
April 24: GDAMS press conferences and social media storm on the occasion of SIPRI’s release of new data on military spending
May 9: Europe’s Day of Peace · Actions against the militarization of the EU
How can you get involved?
If you’re part of an organization:
Prepare your own GDAMS action or join activities prepared by other organizations near you. Once you know the details of your action please send us an email so we can add them to our map & agenda and help you spread the word. You can see examples from last year here.
April 24 will be the main day of action once again. Using new military spending data released that day by SIPRI (figures for 2022), we’ll hold press conferences and launch a Social Media Storm. We’ll send instructions for social media actions soon, and if you’re preparing media work in your city/country, we can help you plan it.
Stay active during GDAMS by sharing ideas, articles, actions and debates through your own network and social media, with other GCOMS partners, and with us (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
Join a local group working on the issue, or set one up! Here’s our list of partners.
Do Online Campaigning: join our social media storm on April 24; use your social media to protest military budgets by sharing pictures, news, materials, and actions;
Write an op-ed; Send a letter to representatives in your country responsible for defense budgets.
On the occasion of the International Day of Peace, 21st September, Connection e.V., the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, the European Office for Conscientious Objection, and War Resisters’ International are calling for a signature campaign for deserters and conscientious objectors from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The #ObjectWarCampaign calls on all citizens from everywhere to join the global effort to ensure protection and asylum for conscientious objectors and deserters from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine involved in the current war in the region. They are our hope to refuse war and let peace prevail!
On April 6, 2022, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, had called on Russian soldiers to desert and promised them protection under refugee law. So far, this promise has not been fulfilled.
Within the scope of #ObjectWarCampaign, a petition has been prepared for everyone to sign in. The petition is addressed to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Council Charles Michel, and the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola. The petition emphasizes the need to uphold the right to asylum for conscientious objectors and deserters from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine by hosting states. The petition launched on the WeMove.eu website can now be signed in German, English, French, Italian and Greek.
Ukraine suspended the right to conscientious objection and closed the border for men between 18 and 60. Over 100,000 men have evaded war involvement in Ukraine and fled abroad. Currently, Ukrainian citizens have temporary residence in the European Union. The #ObjectWarCampaign petition demands that the right to conscientious objection to military service is fully guaranteed in Ukraine.
The petition signatures are a crucial sign of support for conscientious objectors and deserters. This campaign highlights the importance of opening borders to those who oppose the war at great personal risk in their countries and calls on everyone around the world to support those who refuse to fight and kill.
Every recruit can be a conscientious objector, every soldier a deserter. Let’s support those who refuse to kill and end war together!
The launch of the petition has been anticipated by an appeal sent in June 2022, to the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe -supported by 60 organizations from 20 countries – detailing why protection and support for deserters and conscientious objectors on all sides of the Ukrainian war is necessary and moreover that it is a human right. There have already been discussions about this in the European Parliament.
More information: The appeal to the European institutions can be found here. Background information can be found here.