About Rebecca Johnson

Rebecca Johnson, FRSA, is a feminist peace campaigner and academic author. She is the Director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, CND Vice-President, and a member of Women in Black


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Articles by Rebecca Johnson

This week's editor

Mariam Ali

Mariam Ali is Associate Editor for openDemocracy's Arab Awakening page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The Austrian pledge to ban nuclear weapons

Driven by “the imperative of human security for all", Austria pledged at the HINW conference to work to "stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks”.

Nuclear survivors' testimony: from hell to hope

Participants at the HINW Conference were screened for nuclear contamination yesterday, before listening to testimony from survivors mobilising for the abolition of nuclear weapons in what Pope Francis called "our common home."

Gathering speed to ban nuclear weapons

The Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons (HINW) opens in Vienna today, with arguments for humanitarian disarmament growing in strength. This time the UK and the US will attend. What will be the likely outcome?

After Scotland decides: build citizen-centred democracy throughout Britain

Regardless of the outcome of the Scots vote, we must seize this chance to reimagine the constitutional order of these isles.

Guerilla woolfare: against the madness of mutually assured destruction

Rolling out a seven mile knitted pink peace scarf between the Atomic Weapons Establishment complexes at Aldermaston and Burghfield on Nagasaki Day may sound crazy. It isn't as insane as letting the UK government spend another £100 billion on building a new nuclear weapons system to replace Trident.

An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts

Wars may be started for trivial or mistaken reasons, as happened in 1914, but they are fuelled by arms industries. It’s time to look at the alternative history of efforts to prohibit the weapons that feed wars, causing widespread humanitarian suffering.

Nuclear non-proliferation in a time warp

The mood was cheerful as the international Non-Proliferation Treaty conference ended in New York last Friday, but the atmosphere was sustained at the expense of tackling the real world nuclear challenges. Rebecca Johnson reports from the conference, and examines what role the NPT really plays in today's world.

Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence

There are patriarchal reasons why women are disproportionately made to suffer in wars. It should not be surprising that women are disproportionately active in resisting and challenging violence, wars and armed oppression, says Rebecca Johnson.

Banning nuclear weapons: point of no return

The Nayarit conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons demonstrated beyond doubt that preventing nuclear catastrophe is the responsibility and right of all. As Austria picks up the baton, the challenge will be to move forward in a process that is open to all and blockable by none

The UK government's stand against humanitarian disarmament

Why is the UK government boycotting a key multilateral conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons? Rebecca Johnson analyses the implications for British nuclear policy as governments and civil society convene in Mexico to take forward a new humanitarian disarmament process

To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy

Civil society must stop the use of chemical weapons being used as a pretext for US-led bombing in Syria. A gendered understanding demonstrates that the only sustainable strategy is to pursue disarmament and strengthen international humanitarian law.

New nuclear weapons for the UK: a challenge Labour can’t dodge

Labour could turn opposition to the billion pound Trident replacement into an electoral asset, but instead appears to be sleepwalking to oblivion. Rebecca Johnson makes the case for challenging Trident replacement, and says it's time to mobilise civil society

Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013

In the UK, Labour's nuclear disarmament policies of the 1980s were not to blame for electoral failure, argues Rebecca Johnson. A sensible, fact-based debate about Trident replacement requires Ed Miliband to overcome the Party’s ‘electoral defeat traumatic syndrome’.

Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room

The recent Trident Alternatives Review excludes any consideration of alternative means that might provide effective deterrence and more reliable security for Britain in the 21st century.  Rebecca Johnson considers what the Review missed and calls for intelligent public and political debate

From banning nuclear tests to banning nuclear weapons

Sixty years after Britain’s first atomic weapons test, we need to consider the parallels between how the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was achieved in the 1990s and today’s nuclear challenges. The British government is, yet again, unable to read the writing on the wall, says Rebecca Johnson

NPT: toothless in the face of real world dangers

The core purpose of the NPT was security and the prevention of nuclear war, but the esoteric diplomacy of the current regime has become too far removed from the dangerous and messy world of today’s nuclear risks and ambitions. Rebecca Johnson reports at the close of the NPT meeting in Geneva

The NPT’s “unacceptable and continuous failure”: Egypt walks out

On April 29th Egypt’s diplomats walked out of the NPT Conference in protest at the lack of progress in establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, thereby putting the NPT regime on notice. Reporting from Geneva, Rebecca Johnson analyses the reasons

NPT and risks to human survival: the inside story

Doctrines, deployments, and the political value attached to "nuclear deterrence" are being challenged at the NPT conference.  As 78 nations co-sponsor a growing "humanitarian initiative", the five NPT nuclear-armed states and some of their "nuclear umbrella" allies like Japan, Australia and Germany are in denial. Rebecca Johnson reports

North Korea and Trident: challenging the nuclear non-proliferation regime

As representatives of 189 governments meet to discuss strengthening the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Kim Jong-un and David Cameron have provided stark reminders of the continuing dangers that nuclear weapons pose to human security. Rebecca Johnson reports from Geneva

The fetishists of nuclear power projection have had their day

Those who build, target, deploy and fire nuclear weapons are not supposed to think about the humanitarian consequences. They are not supposed to behave "like women". But a growing number of nuclear free countries are doing just this, and taking the lead in declaring it's time to outlaw these weapons of mass suffering.

Banning nuclear weapons: this time lip service will not be enough

A new grassroots network  launches this week with the twin aims of scrapping Trident and persuading the UK to join other governments in multilateral negotiations to achieve a global treaty banning nuclear weapons. If we get our strategies right, the peace movement can win this one, says Rebecca Johnson. 

Colluders in sexual violence: don't let them off the hook

Jimmy Savile, Cyril Smith, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, recent events within the Socialist Workers Party: all four cases show how socially powerful figures can benefit from a 'culture of collusion' perpetrated by those around them.

Standing on the threshold: banning nuclear weapons

On the 25th anniversary of the first real disarmament agreement of the Cold War, Rebecca Johnson looks back at how the 'people to people' and 'women to women' peace campaigns helped to reframe Europe as our shared home rather than the divided and militarised Cold War blocs 

The politics of alliances: feminist peace action, drones and Code Pink

Meredith Tax raises significant questions about feminist activism, political alliances and fundamentalism, but her attack on Code Pink's campaign trip against the use of remotely-controlled drones in Pakistan is misplaced, says Rebecca Johnson. 

From Fukushima to Hinkley Point

Climate change is a major security threat, but it can’t be solved with the 20th century’s nuclear technologies. On her return from meeting people trying to revive abandoned villages left contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster,  Rebecca Johnson raises concerns about plans for a new generation of nuclear power reactors in Britain, starting with Hinkley C.

Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes

The NPT PrepCom Review in Vienna closed by underlining the majority view that “any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be inconsistent with fundamental rules of international humanitarian law". In her final report from the NPT Rebecca Johnson says that the next few years may see some fundamental changes in how nuclear issues are addressed

Summoning political will to rid the Middle East of WMD

Time is running out for the long anticipated conference in Helsinki on how to establish a nuclear free zone in the Middle East,  Rebecca Johnson reports on the final day of the NPT Review in Vienna

Non-Proliferation Treaty: the ground is shifting

Civil society, the Non-Aligned Movement, and a cross regional group of 16 countries have brought humanitarian consequences and international  law to the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review meeting in Vienna. This may be a potential game changer, says Rebecca Johson

Is the nuclear non-proliferation regime fit for purpose?

While the world turns, nuclear weapons are modernised and revalued in nine nuclear-armed states, causing a growing number of nuclear-weapon-free countries to reassess their options for security. Rebecca Johnson reports from Vienna where diplomats are gathering to review progress on the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Fukushima: a foreseeable consequence of nuclear dependency

The Fukushima nuclear disaster was both avoidable and inevitable. Nuclear technologies have too many inherent risks with widespread consequences to be a sensible choice for energy production, argues Rebecca Johnson

The Occupy movement and the women of Greenham Common

Feminist experience and input into the theory and practice of nonviolence has much to offer a new generation of grassroots Occupy activists. Rebecca Johnson reflects on the lessons of the successful Greenham Common protest

Rape: a basic tool of militarism

Women’s groups such as Women in Black have long led the way in challenging the mindsets and structures of patriarchal power and militarism, but men must recognise that they have the primary responsibility to make the changes, says Rebecca Johnson

South Korea: destroying the lives of the Haenyo ‘sea women’

A naval base being built on Jeju Island threatens to destroy the livelihoods of the iconic women shellfish divers and raise levels of rape and prostitution in the surrounding villages. On her return from Jeju, Rebecca Johnson says international action is needed to stop the military construction

After Fukushima

As we pursue the abolition of nuclear weapons, we also need to phase out reliance on nuclear energy. Both are incompatible with our environmental and human security, says Rebecca Johnson.

"The rising of the women means the rising of us all"

In the 1970s, the women’s liberation movement had a badge that proclaimed: women who seek equality with men lack ambition. We don’t want to participate as equals in the violence, oppression and greed of patriarchal power, says Rebecca Johnson.

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