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Keep Space for Peace Week

4 October 2014

What is going on in outer space and why is it important to engage for a peaceful space?

Today marks the start of the international week of protest to stop the militarisation of outer space. WILPF’s disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will (RCW), co-sponsors this week of action and awareness, which takes place every year in October, this time from 4-11 October 2014.

During the coming week, RCW will post information, updates, and news related to disarmament activities on outer space. Also make sure to check out the schedule for information on local activities for public action.

We believe that outer space should remain free from weapons and protected against weaponisation, militarisation, and irresponsible behavior. It is extremely important to keep space for peace in order to facilitate humanitarian needs, such as telecommunication, disaster mitigation, resource management, and development.


Over the past decades, there has been a rapid increase in the knowledge about outer space, followed by an increase in our use of outer space technology. This means that we are becoming ever more dependent on the use of space for peaceful purposes.

The increase of outer space activities has also contributed to an expansion of the military use of space. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to address the issue of safety and security in space and the preservation of this unique environment so it can continue to benefit all of us for a long time to come.

Space Debris around Earth Credit: Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Space Debris around Earth
Credit: Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

Precaution is needed in outer space operations, as collisions of any objects in orbit create enormous amounts of debris. This can have devastating effects such as collision with operational satellites and radio frequency interference.

Space debris is the result of human activity in space. It is the collection of old objects in orbit, such as pieces left from payloads, old satellites, loose bolts, etc. It does not take more than a tiny rock (or a random piece of space debris) to destroy important satellites or other devices.

The average impact speed of orbital debris with another space object is close to 10 km/s, meaning a collision with even a small piece of debris will cause severe damage.

Another risk in outer space is the worrying trend in technology development in recent years: weaponisation of space technology is no longer just science fiction. Some states have developed and even tested anti-satellite systems. Some ground-based “missile defence” technologies also have dual-use capabilities as space weapons, as they can be used to attack space-based assets.


The overwhelming majority of UN Member States are concerned that the weaponisation of outer space will lead to an arms race and believe that a multilateral approach is the best way to prevent this.

The Outer Space Treaty from 1967 prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in outer space. But it does not regulate other types of weapon systems being placed in outer space or using outer space assets to conduct attacks.

A new agreement has been on the disarmament agenda for decades to prevent an arms race in outer space, but negotiations have never commenced on this topic. Although different initiatives have been introduced, negotiations for a legally-binding instrument have continuously been prevented.

With our growing understanding about the universe, it is more important than ever to protect space against weaponisation, militarisation, and irresponsible behaviour. A conflict in space would lead to devastating direct consequences for our daily life on Earth, but also affect the overall long-term sustainability and peaceful use of space.


Stay tuned for RCW’s updates on how we can contribute to preventing the weaponisation of outer space during Keep Space for Peace Week!

Read more about the initiative on the Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.


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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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