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Anniversary of TPNW Adoption

One year ago today, the world made history. Surrounded by atomic bomb survivors, antinuclear activists, members of the Red Cross, and UN officials, 122 governments adopted new international law prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
7 July 2018

One year ago today, the world made history. Surrounded by atomic bomb survivors, antinuclear activists, members of the Red Cross, and UN officials, 122 governments adopted new international law prohibiting nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) outlaws all nuclear weapon-related activities including possession and use, sets out measures for disarmament, and addresses victim assistance, environmental remediation, indigenous rights, and women’s empowerment. Its adoption was a groundbreaking moment at the United Nations. As Setsuko Thurlow, atomic bomb survivor from Hiroshima, said in her concluding remarks, “This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”
(Read the complete analysis of “How Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons Changed the World” by Ray Acheson, WILPF Disarmament Programme Director)

WILPF has been at the centre of this work from the beginning, and our commitment has not waned. We have been an integral part of the International Steering Group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the civil society coalition that drove the treaty process forward in collaboration with governments. We were present in Oslo in December as leaders of ICAN when it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And we continue to be active in shaping the strategic direction of the campaign and working for the Treaty’s entry into force now!

In March we launched a resource in English, French, and Spanish for WILPF Sections and members through a webinar.The guide breaks down what the TPNW is all about it, highlighting its gendered provisions, and outlines what WILPF have contributed to the campaign over the last several years. The guide ends with where you can find more information and suggestions for taking action.

WILPF-UK built on the information in the resource guide and elsewhere to provide an interactive training day with a focus on negotiation and lobbying skills in April 2017. Following a presentation about the Treaty and how it fits into the UK context, participants were divided into groups to test arguments and practice talking points when meeting with members of parliament.

In May, WILPF Italy carried out a Treaty-related action at a concert. It has planned nonviolent actions to oppose the modernisation of the military bases of Ghedi, where US nuclear bombs are kept, and Camp Darby, the biggest US logistics base in Europe. It will be participating in COP24 in Poland, where it aims to draw attention to the environmental impact of nuclear weapons.

There has been strong continued activism from the Scottish section of WILPF UK, with outreach to the Scottish parliament and challenging British nuclear convoys that pass through Scotland. A large demonstration is planned for September 2018 at Faslane, the British nuclear submarine base.

WILPF staff in New York have helped organised an initiative 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 TPNW. This initiative also involves direct action, such as when several of the ICAN NYC contingent joined CODEPINK outside of the BlackRock office in New York during an annual shareholders meeting. The activists called for divestment from the company, which has been described by CODEPINK as “the world’s largest shadow bank,” with billions of US dollars invested in the world’s top weapons manufacturers.

In Australia, ICAN members, WILPF staff, and environmental activists embarked on a Radioactive Exposure Tour that Friends of the Earth Australia has been organising for the past 30 years. The “Rad Tour” featured visits to uranium mines, bomb test sites, and proposed radioactive waste dumps in South Australia and is a unique way to introduce urban-based activists to the people that are directly confronting the nuclear industry in rural or lesser-populated areas.

As an extension of our work on nuclear disarmament and the TPNW, we have lifted our voices to call for peace and denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula and for women to have a seat at the table in those discussions. WILPF’s International President and the Director of WILPF Colombia participated in the #WomenPeaceKorea delegation visit to Seoul, South Korea in May 2018, together with Women Cross DMZ, Nobel Women’s Initiative, and representatives of 30 women’s peace organisations from South Korea.

WILPF International staff meet regularly with diplomatic missions at the United Nations in New York to advocate for signature and ratification of the TPNW. We’ve also with coordinating high-profile events such as the Treaty’s opening for signature during the UNGA High Level in September 2017 and in connection with the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in December 2017. We are helping to organise the next signing ceremony, to be held 26 September 2018.

We continue to raise the public profile of the TPNW in numerous ways. The Director of WILPF’s disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will, has delivered presentations at universities in the US and Canada while also publishing articles and speaking to the media. Our writing and publications have advanced the Treaty’s profile in other disarmament fora too, such as during the 2017 UNGA First Committee and at the Preparatory Committee of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in April 2018. In both spaces the Treaty has come under attack from its opponents, either for being “moralistic”, ineffective, or divisive to the international community. But we know better: this treaty is a signal to the world that we will no longer accept the unacceptable, and that the global majority is creating new law to protect human life and our planet.

On this one-year anniversary of the TPNW’s adoption, there is time for celebration but not self-congratulation. Work remains to be done to bring on board the additional states parties that are necessary to trigger the Treaty’s entry-into-force—eleven states have ratified the TPNW already, and there are many indications that several other countries that have signed it will ratify later this year and into 2019. Beyond that, continuing to stigmatise these weapons and challenge the structures that support and enable them will be a mainstay of our work, until we reach the goal of a nuclear weapons free world.

WILPF Members?

Is your Section working to promote the TPNW and nuclear disarmament? Get in touch with the Reaching Critical Will programme so we can coordinate and collaborate!

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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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