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A World Free from Nuclear Weapons? the NPT Is Here and Now

23 April 2013
NPT Review Conference
NPT Review Conference. 2010. UN Photo/Mark Garten

The second Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) begun its two-week session yesterday, Monday 22nd April, at the United Nations in Geneva. The NPT contains the only binding commitment to nuclear disarmament and entered into force in 1970.

Review Conferences of the 189 states parties to the NPT take place every five years and the three years leading up to it Preparatory Committees offer states the chance to talk and negotiate and, thus, prepare consensus for the Review Conference. The four-week Review Conference will then, hopefully, produce a substantive document in which governments commit themselves to actual nuclear disarmament.

Challenges and opportunities of the NPT

Since its indefinite extension during the Review Conference in 1995, states have agreed on principles and objectives, 13 practical steps and an Action Plan to further nuclear disarmament. However, still roughly around 17,300 nuclear weapons exist today in all of the nuclear possessing states both inside and outside the NPT: China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The nuclear weapon states under the NPT are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Apart from nuclear disarmament, which is contained in Article 6 of the treaty, states will talk about the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (Article 1 and 2) and the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy (Article 4). Those are the so-called three pillars of the NPT. In the past, the nuclear disarmament commitment contained in Article 6 has been interpreted mainly as the responsibility of the nuclear weapon states, as they are the ones who have to disarm.

However, in March 2013, 127 non-nuclear weapons states have met in Oslo to discuss the catastrophic humanitarian consequences the use of nuclear weapons would have not only on those immediately affected by the blast, but also on the rest of the world. The presentations held at that meeting have revealed that no country in the world is prepared to respond to such a catastrophe. Therefore, it is an issue of concern and relevance for all as the broad participation in the Oslo conference reflects.

These very fruitful and engaged discussions will be continued in Mexico.

Keeping up the Oslo spirit

This PrepCom is first major government meeting on nuclear disarmament since the Oslo conference and not only diplomats have traveled to Geneva to participate in the conference. Many non-governmental organisations (NGO) have registered with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. Many of them had participated in the Civil Society forum in Oslo organised by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in the lead up to the government conference. ICAN advocates strongly for the abolishment of all nuclear weapons in the world and has gained many partners across fields of Civil Society organisations, since it started in 2006.

The most important task for NGO representatives at this PrepCom will be to bring the positive and productive spirit of the Oslo meeting to the halls of the UN. Unlike some states claim, existing processes in the UN, like the NPT, will benefit from the perspectives the humanitarian approach offers and it might help to re-focus attention on the necessary issues.

On Wednesday, 24th April 2013, Civil Society representatives will have the chance to speak to the conference. The keynote speaker, Ward Wilson, will be followed by a panel of NGO experts on nuclear disarmament and the humanitarian aspects of it. States will have the opportunity to tap into that valuable resource in a Q&A session.


During the NPT conferences, WILPF is represented by its disarmament project, Reaching Critical Will (RCW), and by WILPF members from different national sections. RCW functions as the coordinator for NGOs in the NPT PrepCom and, as part of that work, it organises daily off-the-record briefings with governments. Additionally, it publishes daily reports of the meetings and side events on a daily basis to increase transparency and offer those who could not make the trip a chance to stay informed and up to date on what governments are doing.

If you want to stay informed about what is happening at the 2013 PrepCom, sign up for our daily News in Review. Check the RCW website for more detailed information on the NPT and other disarmament fora. Also take a look at the ICAN website for information about the campaign and information on how to get involved!


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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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