Race and Intersectionality Humanitarian Disarmament Forum 2020 - 2021


This year's Humanitarian Disarmament Forum (HDF) is exploring intersectionality with a focus on race and racism within the humanitarian disarmament community.

When Soka Gakkai International and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots initially decided to host this year's HDF, the world looked very different. Covid-19 had not yet emerged and while the Black Lives Matter movement had existed for over 7 years, the large-scale global awareness and discussion of systemic, institutional and individual racism that occurred following the murder of George Floyd had not yet taken place. These events have altered our societies, our communities and our awareness but there is a lot more work to be done. Racism is not limited to overt acts of hatred or violence, it is systemic and often nuanced. Civil society and our community are not immune to this.

We hope, very much, that you will join us on a journey to learn more and tackle inequity in our own community head on. We want this journey to be progressive, community building, healing, interesting, challenging and safe. We want the HDF to be a space for everyone. We know that some of you may be worried about saying the wrong thing, about causing hurt or being hurt. And that for others, this may be completely new to you and you're unsure why this matters to humanitarian disarmament work. Join us in the knowledge that this will be a space where we can all learn from each other, with some expert help too.

Hear directly from the planning team in this short video:

Essential info_


This year, the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum (HDF) will look a little different than in years past. The HDF will be an ongoing process, held over the course of the next year in three major stages. First, we’ll hold an online Forum for 2 hours per day, over 3 days in October 2020 to introduce and frame the topic and our work. Then we will undertake a guided self-study process of learning and dialogue. Finally, we will get together with a face-to-face Humanitarian Disarmament Forum in 2021. By registering for the HDF, you are committing to seeing this process through and being part of a learning journey for the next year and beyond.

Part 1 - Oct 19-21 (online)

A record turn-out of 115 people from 40 countries participated in Part 1 of the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum on 19-21 October, co-hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Soka Gakkai International. This was the ninth annual gathering of activists working across humanitarian disarmament since 2012 and the first Forum to be held virtually. It marked the beginning of a learning process that will see campaigners spend the coming year studying and discussing racism and how to adopt an intersectional approach to their collective work. Read more about Part 1 of the HDF 2020-2021.

Graphic Recording by Sonaksha Iyengar (www.sonaksha.com)

Affinity groups, what are they:

Our facilitated “affinity groups” are workshops where participants self-identified along racial lines and met together to discuss issues around racism and intersectionality. Participants self-selected which affinity group they wished to partake in. For example, you may identify as Black or of African descent, or as White or of European descent. We understand that sometimes this is very clear and other times it can be far from straightforward.

How you identify or how you are perceived by others can often change with the context (Eg. nationally or internationally); the perception of your skin colour and the cultural or ethnic communities that you belong to may not always match. For the purposes of this event, we would like you to consider how your perceived skin colour places you in positions of power and/or privilege in the majority of contexts in which you operate.

Graphic Recording by Sonaksha Iyengar (www.sonaksha.com)


We strongly recommend taking the time to look at these resources before the HDF. They will help you to prepare, give you some food for thought, and provide a good idea of where we’re coming from and where we hope we can go.

Resource_o 1

What is intersectionality? What does it have to do with racism? With anything? Hear directly from the woman who coined the term. Watch time: 30mins.


Still trying to wrap your head around affinity groups? The School that Tried to End Racism is a documentary that explores racism using affinity groups as a tool to help young people who have grown up in a society that professes 'we are colourblind', 'we are all equal' but is not in reality for many people of colour. Watch time: 46mins.

or here ⬇︎


This talk by Robin DiAngelo introducing her book 'White Fragility' is super helpful to get your head around some of the issues around race and white supremacy. Even though she is from the USA, the issues she raises are global. Watch time: 1hr23mins.


She told God she wanted a girl, and she wanted her to be healthy, but one thing mattered above all: “The baby has to be white.”

Article on race and 'colorblindness' in the world's biggest melting pot - Brazil.


Microaggressions are "everyday slights, indignities, put downs and insults that people of colour, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalised experiences in their day-to-day interactions with people".


If you have a moment, the quick privilege self-analysis tool below is a useful undertaking for all of us ahead of the HDF and we would encourage you to give it a go!

Frequently asked questions_

Why are we talking about race and intersectionality in humanitarian disarmament?

While the humanitarian disarmament movement has taken significant steps to be more gender-inclusive and feminist over the last few years, it has been slower to incorporate an anti-racist and race-inclusive approach on a wider scale. By focusing on the theme of race and intersectionality, we hope to develop our communities’ understanding of these issues. Deepening our understanding about how racism manifests within humanitarian disarmament gives us a better chance of addressing explicit, nuanced, structural or systemic inequalities. Additionally, creating a disarmament community that’s more equitable and diverse will help to foster solidarity and support with those who live with the realities of racism within and outside our humanitarian disarmament community. This will, in turn, strengthen our own campaigning, advocacy, and outreach efforts.

How important are the recommended resources?

These videos, reading and other resources are important! To get the best learning and participation experience, as well as a better understanding of the topic, it’s definitely worth taking the time to watch/read them before the start of the HDF.

Why are we using affinity groups?

Affinity groups are often used as a way of creating “safer” spaces to discuss sensitive or challenging topics - personal experiences of racism, advantages or disadvantages faced because of one’s identity(ies). We are using affinity groups to create spaces where people who identify along racial lines can come together to discuss racism and share experiences. We hope that these spaces will help enhance understanding and learning before we all come together again to continue these discussions in a more traditional HDF format in 2021 with the hopes of better supporting one another to meet common disarmament goals. To see affinity groups in action and to get a better sense of what they are, check out our Recommended Resource 02: The School That Tried to End Racism.

When will I select my affinity group?

After the registration process the organising team will have a better idea of how many people will participate in the HDF, as well as how participants racially identify. Based on this information and working together with our expert trainers, we will identify different racial affinity groups for you to choose from. These will be sent to you to select via email before the HDF. Once you have selected your affinity group you will be provided with a link to access your group. Note that no one else will have access to the link aside from the HDF team and other members of your affinity group.

What if I don’t identify with any of the affinity group options, or I identify with more than one?

For some people choosing an affinity group will be straight-forward, for others it will be more complicated. For example, how you personally identify may not always be consistent with how others identify you, and this can also change based on where you travel. So if there isn’t an affinity group that is obvious to you, we encourage you to consider your racial identity and the kind of power and privilege that comes with that identity. We hope that you will choose a group that will challenge you and help you to analyse or recognise racism in your usual context (where you mostly live and work). To help with this, please try out the power and privilege self-analysis tool and our other recommended resources. If you’re still unsure of where to go or would like further clarification, please email the organising team via our dedicated email: hdf@stopkillerrobots.org

What do I do if I’m triggered by some of the topics covered in the discussions?

Although the affinity groups and the other HDF spaces are designed to be safer spaces for everyone, racism is a painful reality for many and some people may be offended, triggered or uncomfortable at some point during this process. We are working hard to make this HDF as safe as possible, but where incidences arise we have trained supporters who will be available via personal messaging in Part 1 of the HDF (in Part 2 our supporters will also be available online, and for Part 3 they’ll be available in-person). If you have any concerns or worries that you would like to discuss, or if you witness something that concerns you, please reach out to the Support Team. They’ll be able to discuss how you are feeling and provide support and/or action if required.

What if I feel uncomfortable about some of these topics for discussion?

The planning team has undertaken our own learning journey in the lead up to this HDF, so we understand feeling uneasy when discussing and learning about racism. Part of the learning that will be going on in this year’s HDF will be uncomfortable, as it also requires unlearning our own preconceptions and unconscious biases. We felt that it is important to give space and a platform to people whose voices are often unheard within humanitarian disarmament. This means that listening to what others are saying with an open mind even if it’s not easy to hear. By registering and attending the Forum, you are making an active commitment to the process.

I’m unfamiliar with some of the terms being used.

You can find a list of definitions and terminologies here or below which should cover most of the terms you’ll come across throughout the HDF.

Can I join the HDF late, after Part 1?

Yes, you can, however this HDF is a shared learning journey that starts in October 2020, and it may be difficult to keep up with the learning and concepts later down the line. If you do join late you should be prepared to undertake self-study with HDF resources and materials to review some of the discussions that have already taken place.

Do I need to download Zoom and do I need a Zoom account?

We suggest you download Zoom client for your desktop in order to get the best experience of the virtual meeting. There will also be an option to join via your internet browser with a specific Zoom link - these will be shared with you before the meeting.



Please feel free to reach out to our team with any questions, concerns, clarifications. We would be more than happy to hear from you!


The Humanitarian Disarmament Forum strives to create and protect safe spaces for people, online and in person. We aim to ensure all people are treated with respect and dignity, and all participants can partake in the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum free of intimidation, discrimination, or hostility — regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, nationality, origin, race, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, or physical appearance. We do not tolerate harassment in any form.

The Code of Conduct for the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum embodies our commitment to uphold these principles and outlines our expectations and our responses to violations of the Code of Conduct.

All participants, partners, and supporters of the Humanitarian Disarmament Forum are expected to read, understand, and abide by this Code of Conduct. Anyone who is found to have violated this policy may be asked to leave Humanitarian Disarmament Forum spaces, online and in person.


We have compiled a basic list of terms that we hope will be helpful throughout the HDF 2020 - 2021 process. If you don't find what you need below, there are extensive resources available online. You can also reach out to us and we will do our best to help out!

With thanks to our sponsors

Co-hosted by:


Created with images by mauro mora - "Crosswalk in long-exposure" • Maria Oswalt - "a sign at a protest in Atlanta" • NeONBRAND - "untitled image" • Thomas Dumortier - "untitled image" • Agustín Diaz - "Sunset from sugarloft" • Felipe Furtado - "untitled image" • Jon Tyson - "untitled image" • Adam Solomon - "Wandering Koreatown I found a welcoming watering hole."