WILPF Report on Disarmament



    This 2008 event was the 25th such seminar.  Since 1984, the
    Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
    (WILPF) has worked with other NGOs to organise a seminar
    linking 8 March – International Women's Day – with
    disarmament, peace and security issues.

    International Women's Day Disarmament Seminar Statement
    and Report

    Women, War, Weapons and Conflict Prevention

    We, women from many parts the world, take this opportunity
    to raise our voices, which are often suppressed or ignored,
    on disarmament, peace and security. The 2008 International
    Women's Day Disarmament Seminar highlighted the crises of
    human security and sustainable development caused by
    military spending, war and weapon profiteering, and the
    persistence of ideas and expectations of gender that shape
    how war, women, and peace are considered.

    This year's Seminar, held 5-6 March 2008, included over one
    hundred participants from non-governmental organisations from
    more than forty countries and marked two significant
    anniversaries. The first is the 30th anniversary of the First
    Special Session on Disarmament of the UN General
    Assembly, possibly the highest point of consensus and
    vision ever achieved in multilateral disarmament diplomacy,
    which created the Conference on Disarmament we have
    today and set out its ten-part agenda.  

    Our seminar was directly linked to neglected items on the
    Decalogue, namely the reduction of military spending, the
    linkage between disarmament and development, nuclear
    disarmament, conventional weapons, and disarmament as
    confidence building.  We struggle to find language to
    express our dismay, our anger, at the failure of
    governments over the last eleven years to advance these
    agenda items, and their commitments made by consensus
    thirty years ago.

    A 40 year-old treaty was also discussed; a treaty that has
    inhibited nuclear proliferation somewhat, but that has not
    yet delivered on nuclear disarmament.  If, indeed, "life
    begins at 40", then the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
    (NPT) must gain a new lease on life if it is to deliver tangible
    results at the 2010 Review Conference.  The CD's
    contribution to the success of this meeting is to start
    negotiating a verifiable Fissile Material Treaty.  States
    Parties must get serious about compliance with the
    disarmament obligation and commence negotiation of a
    Nuclear Weapon Convention.

    Civil society has documented how small arms and light weapons are killing and wounding
    hundreds of thousands of people every year and how they threaten sustainable
    development throughout the world, but still this issue has met with a less than adequate
    international response. The unexploded remnants of cluster munitions, attractive in size,
    shape, and colour to children and other unwitting civilians, continue to kill for decades
    after conflicts are over, as do landmines that lay hidden in the earth. Conflict goods that
    fuel wars, repression and environmental damage are traded on our markets almost
    completely unhindered.  There are stricter international regulations on the trade of old
    postage stamps than on conventional armaments. And we are now witnessing another
    escalation of the nuclear arms race and the potential weaponization of outer space.  
    We are women from countries that experience war and peace, from countries that
    produce weapons and from countries that pay the high economic, social and human price
    of receiving them.  We, as women, unanimously call on governments to abandon narrow
    concepts of military security and instead focus our human and economic resources on
    addressing the real daily threats to the security of their citizens, such as poverty, hunger,
    insecurity, HIV and AIDS, climate change, and environmental degradation.  
    Weapons can do nothing to alleviate these security problems.  Instead, the acquisition of
    arms diverts enormous financial, technical and human resources from where they are
    really needed. This has been true for a long time, but the situation has never been more
    urgent than it is today. What is preventing progress? Who benefits from business as
    usual?  We reject the idea that the military industry, the weapons trade, brings jobs,
    prosperity or security. The arms trade has turned people into mercenaries and parts of
    our planet into cemeteries. The military-industrial-academic complex, that we were warned
    in 1961 as having the potential for a disastrous rise of misplaced power has truly
    achieved its potential when military spending exceeds $1204 billion annually in 2006
    prices.  Reducing military spending is on your agenda, you are mandated to address and
    curb this disastrous and misplaced political and economic power that military corporations
    Reversing a real security threat, catastrophic climate change, for example, will require a
    paradigm shift in resource allocation.  We can meet this challenge, but only if we are
    prepared to face the fact that bombs, guns and landmines will not deter or remove the
    threat of a Tsunami, a hurricane, a flood, a virus, or a water shortage.  To do this we have
    to bring a halt to the organized crime of weapons profiteering and the CD has a role to
    play.  8 million lives could be saved with an investment of $57 billion.  We could achieve
    by 2015 the MDGS with $135 million in overseas development assistance.  These levels
    of investment are tiny in comparison with the level of military expenditure.
    Compare military spending with efforts to finance gender equality for half the human
    •        The combined budgets of UN bodies working on women's issues    $65 million, is
    only 0.005% of world military expenditure;
    •        The World Bank estimates the cost of interventions to promote
    gender equality under MDG 3 is $7-13 per capita. The world's military
    expenditure in 2006 amounted to $184 per capita;

           Of $20 billion in bilateral aid in 2001-2005, an OECD DAC study
    reports that only $5 billion was allocated to projects promoting gender
    empowerment; the cost of approximately 2 weeks of the occupation of
    Article 26 of the UN Charter emphasizes the need to stop wasting human and economic
    resources on armaments.  It is time for the Security Council to act in compliance with
    Article 26 by delivering a plan for reducing armaments.  If the Security Council had fulfilled
    this task, the disarmament machinery would not be so overburdened or stuck as it is
    Conflict prevention involves confidence- and trust-building, and begins with reducing the
    role of nuclear and other weapons in security policies. Everything flows from this first step
    that, when taken, will move security thinking beyond the capacity to destroy to the
    capacity to share this planet's finite resources sustainably, to enjoy life with the full
    spectrum of human rights. Rather than being utopian, these goals are entirely achievable,
    but trends in military spending must be reversed before they can be realised.  
    Participants in the 2008 International Women's Day Seminar focused on the roles and
    responsibilities of women, outlined in Security Council 1325, to participate in conflict
    prevention, disarmament and all levels of security decision-making. Since the adoption of
    this resolution these issues have been newly and more deeply understood, governments
    and NGOs have undertaken some laudable work to implement it, we have seen some
    more highly competent and intelligent women appointed to engage in security and
    disarmament – of course we would like to see more because as the President of Chile
    said recently, "A woman who enters politics changes; a thousand women who enter
    politics change politics." Without women's equal participation, sustainable peace,
    sustainable development and true human security are unattainable. Women must be able
    to contribute their perspectives, help determine the direction of policy options, and have a
    greater say over budgetary allocations.  
    We need to examine the relationship between masculinity and war as much as the
    relationship between women and peace. Men and women experience war very differently,
    from war-making to peace-building and everything in between.  In any given army, 90
    percent of the soldiers are men while in any given refugee camp, 80 percent of the adults
    of women. Gender roles help to explain why this is so - good human qualities like strength
    and honour get allocated to men and deformed into tools for violence and domination.
    Good human qualities like tenderness and care get allocated to women and deformed into
    the badge of submission. Both parts of humanity end up as less than fully human. If we
    want security for all, we need both women and men, working as equals, to take
    responsibility for our common security.  Wisdom about gender roles will contribute to the
    peace that can be achieved.  
    We women will continue to advocate for the vital changes – in terms of military budgets
    and doctrines - that must be made to achieve genuine human security. We as citizens
    hold you responsible, and we recommit to supporting and encouraging the CD in its work,
    and to educating our constituencies about its vital role.  We as women have addressed
    this body since 1984. We would like to be able to do this ourselves rather than through an
    intermediary. Indeed, not allowing us to read our own statement undermines the
    seriousness of CD in the eyes of people around the world. In this year of the 30th
    anniversary of SSOD1, is it not time to allow civil society organizations they chance to
    address the CD on a regular basis?  W e understand the danger inherent in armament,
    and we will continue for another 24 years, and as long is necessary, to advocate for
    disarmament negotiations in the CD, and for security and disarmament decision-makers
    to be accountable, transparent and democratic. We value all those of you who are helping
    in this endeavour and salute your efforts.
    Skons, E., 'Analysing risks to human lives', SIPRI Yearbook 2007: Armaments,
    Disarmament and International Security, (Oxford University Press: Oxford: 2007), p 265.
    Resource Guide for Gender Theme Groups, Jan. 2005.
    SIPRI, Recent Trends in Military Expenditure, http://www.sipri.
                  Congressional Research Service, Report for US Congress, The Cost of Iraq,
    Afghanistan and other Global War on Terror Operations since 9/11, (2007), RL33110


How beautiful the world is when we live and work together in peace.
Global Strategy of Nonviolence
Mother Theresa said, “Peace begins with a smile.”
Welcome! A Global Strategy of Nonviolence
FOR the CHILDREN A World-Wide Unity Campaign
A Strategy to Bring Peace For the Children and Stop  War
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