Key Developments in Humanitarian Disarmament: New Reports, Resumed Meetings, and an Open Letter

Lan Mei, Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative

As some countries start to reopen while others struggle with increasing cases of COVID-19, the humanitarian disarmament community continues to explore different modes of working and meeting. Developments in the humanitarian disarmament world this past month include updated reports and factsheets, moves to expand divestment from problematic weapons, increased use of social media platforms to spread awareness, in-person and virtual multilateral meetings, new treaty members, and an open letter from the humanitarian disarmament community. In case you missed it:

  • On June 10, Reaching Critical Will released an annual update to its report Assuring Destruction Forever. The report examines the status of the nine existing nuclear weapons programs and addresses their types of nuclear weapons, their nuclear weapons spending, engagement with nuclear weapons-related treaty processes, and their domestic public discourse on nuclear weapons.
  • Progress continues towards financial divestment from problematic weapons. On June 15, an ethics committee appointed by the Norwegian government submitted recommendations to update the guidelines for government pension fund investments. The committee recommended adding lethal autonomous weapons to the list of weapons already proscribed for investment, including nuclear weapons, antipersonnel landmines, cluster munitions, and incendiary weapons. The committee also called for amending the guidelines to exclude development as well as production of weapons and their key components.
  • The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has begun hosting bi-weekly Instagram Live Q&A sessions with experts in their campaign. In June, they hosted Q&As with technology ethicist Peter Asaro and international law expert Dr. Thompson Chengeta. The recordings of these sessions can be found on their Instagram page.
  • On June 29, states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions held their First Preparatory Meeting for the convention’s Second Review Conference, planned for November of this year. States, international organizations, and civil society discussed their vision for the Review Conference’s Lausanne Action Plan, which will identify practical and measurable steps for implementation of the convention. They also expressed support for including a section on cross-cutting elements that would lay out how the convention’s articles are interrelated and interdependent. The meeting was held in-person, with reduced delegation sizes and face masks, while being livestreamed. Recordings of the first and second half of the meeting are available online for those unable to attend in-person.
Swiss Ambassador Félix Baumann, president of the Second Review Conference of Convention on Cluster Munitions, speaks at the First Preparatory Meeting in Geneva in June 2020. Credit:, 2020.
  • In the leadup to the intersessional meetings of states parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, the Landmine Monitor published updated mine action factsheets on June 29. The factsheets reported that while 87% of all mines initially retained for research and training have been destroyed, compliance with the treaty’s transparency reporting obligation is at an all-time low and victim assistance measures have not improved significantly since the last published data in 2018.
  • From June 30-July 2, states parties to the Mine Ban Treaty held remote intersessional meetings before the Eighteenth Meeting of the States Parties, scheduled for November 2020. Among other topics, states parties discussed mainstreaming of gender and diversity in mine action, progress and challenges in meeting the Oslo Action Plan’s indicators for implementation, and obligations to address the impacts of mines of an improvised nature. Nine states parties also presented requests for extensions of time to meet their mine clearance obligations.
  • On July 6, China acceded to the Arms Trade Treaty, becoming the 107th state party to the treaty.
  • Fiji became the 39th state to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on July 7. Only eleven more ratifications are needed to bring the treaty into force.
  • As of July 9, 209 organizations had endorsed an open letter published by the humanitarian disarmament community, arguing that the principles of humanitarian disarmament should guide the way to a new, post-pandemic “normal.” Building on humanitarian disarmament’s pillars of prevention and remediation, emphasis on inclusion, non-discrimination, and accessibility, and support for international cooperation and assistance, the international community can “reshape the security landscape for the future.”
  • The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots are hiring! ICAN is hiring an Admin and Finance Manager. More information can be found here, and applications will be accepted until July 17. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is seeking a Government Relations Manager. More information can be found here, and applications will be accepted until July 27.

Over the coming month, humanitarian disarmament advocates will be preparing for the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The president of the Sixth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty expects to announce soon the format of the meeting, which has been affected by COVID-19 and is currently scheduled for mid-August.

More resources on humanitarian disarmament and COVID-19 can be found on this resources page. Please share your examples of creative advocacy and diplomacy work and events by sending an email to