Words and actions is a space for recording action for peace and sustainability and some of the news of work towards achieving that goal. We invite interactin through our contacts page.
I was a secondary school teacher in Scotland at a time when it was still permissible for teachers to hit pupils on their palms with a leather strap. As a pupil I was myself hit in this way on a number of occasions. Corporal punishment was eventually banned in 1987, though abandoned in many schools and local authorities prior to that.
Looking back on these days, which were in this respect genuinely old and bad, I am hooked by the similarities between the banning process for the tawse and for nuclear weapons.. In the UN at the moment nation states are discussing the status of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Those nuclear-weapon states which are parties to the NPT, along with their willing or unwilling allies and client states, have a standard narrative: Like all of you we want a world free of nuclear weapons but now is not the time – the security environment is not there yet – when things are better we will look at eliminating our arsenals. They call it Creating an Environment for Disarmament. Now, for me that rings a loud bell. I recall the discussions in our school in Falkirk in the late 70s when the belt retainers argued that we should work gradually towards a disciplinary environment where enforcement by corporal punishment would be no longer necessary. But the idea of a belt-free school began to grow. Could such an unimaginable change actually happen? There was an increase in pupils refusing to accept the belt and in one case in particular the mother of the pupil in question took on the system with great courage and persistence. Gradually there was an acceptance that an official ban was on the way and the strips of leather disappeared from teachers’ briefcases. Not long after, a woman who lived in the bungalows behind the school expressed to us her surprise that the big crowd fights she used to see at the end of the school day were a thing of the past. The environment had changed. The ban had changed the environment.
The long grass kickers of the nuclear weapon establishment have this exactly wrong. It is the ban which can change the environment. You could also argue that the prospect of the Treaty on The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons coming in to force, perhaps next year, is already changing the environment. Big international investment companies have divested from nuclear weapons. There’s a growing understanding that disarmament is not the exclusive property of the nuclear club – we are all affected and must all have a say. Above all, the windows of imagination have been opened. Alongside “we have to do this if we are to survive”, there is “we can do this, it can happen and it will bring so many other gifts in its train”.
Back to the days of the belt. I guess you asked a question of me then, and yes, I did myself wield the belt on occasion in my earlier days. No excuses, it was always wrong, but I don’t think we realise just how far things have progressed in Scotland since the fifties and sixties. Read The Invisible Spirit: A Life of Post-War Scotland 1945-75 by the late Kenneth Roy to discover just how brutal life was in these decades. In the same way, in a decade or two we could look back in wonderment that apparently sensible persons were once arguing that the way to get rid of nuclear weapons was to keep them.
A talk by Dr David Tobin of Manchester University
Tuesday 14th May at 7 p.m.
in The Brass Monkey 14 Drummond St, Edinburgh EH8 9TU
China’s “Great Revival” tells a story of the Chinese people uniting and rising to reverse ‘national humiliation’ by the West and return to their pre-modern, rightful place at the centre of world affairs. However, since outbreaks of ethnically targeted violence in Tibet and Xinjiang (2008-2009), the party-state has described the creation of a shared national identity based on Han culture and ‘ethnic unity’ as a “zero-sum political struggle of life or death” and a prerequisite to China’s rise. Towards dreams of unity and revival, China has operated mass extra-judicial internment camps since 2017 as “Education and Transformation Centres” in Xinjiang, interning approximately 10% of the adult Uyghur population. This talk analyses the social and political dynamics behind China’s ethnic minority policy shift towards “fusion” that has culminated in both mass extra-judicial internment camps and the “One-Belt-One-Road” foreign policy initiative. The talk draws from ethnographic fieldwork during the riots of 2009 and the latest official documents from the 19th Party Congress and Xinjiang Working Group meetings. It argues that the party-state exacerbates cycles of insecurity in the region by targeting Uyghur identity as a threat to China’s existence and provoking Uyghur resistance to official policy.
Dr David Tobin is Hallsworth Research Fellow in the Political Economy of China at the University of Manchester. He is currently researching how postcolonial relations between China and the West shape foreign policy-making and ethnic politics in contemporary China. His forthcoming book with Cambridge University Press, Securing China’s Northwestern Frontier: Identity and Insecurity in Xinjiang, analyses the relationship between identity and security in Chinese policy-making and ethnic relations between Han and Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Our aim is to shift prevailing discussions on ‘Security’, away from , toxic militarism and patriarchal dominance that lead to environmental degradation , and instead to discuss real threats experienced here in Scotland – naming them and providing impetus for change.
While extinction rebellion was bringing the climate crisis to the world’s attention via non- violent direct action, a group of just twenty folk from Scottish society – academia, Scottish Parliament, community and single issue organisers – were putting their heads together to think about what real lasting security could mean in Scotland. This was a three day informal seminar, called Secure Scotland which took place at the Allanton Peace Sanctuary near Dumfries, and while some of us would otherwise have been protesting with XR , the same need to galvanise for urgent change was the real driver for this event.
The provenance of the idea was a conversation between a few individuals who had all worked for the YES movement before 2014 be
cause they had seen an opportunity to start again, to build a Scotland that could look after all its citizens, welcome newcomers and act as a progressive influence and be an advocate for global peace. None of us bought the notion of ‘security’ created through violence and dominance, and independence could provide transformative energy policies and ensure sustainable homes, education, food and welcome for everyone in Scotland and rid us of nuclear weapons, arms dealers and transnational corporations. The Rethinking Security network agreed to facilitate and the seminar was funded by the Schiehallion Trust and others as a pilot project for Scotland.
The discussions showed that steps are still in place for moving towards this ideal future Scotland, and there is no shortage of ideas and the skills necessary to implement them. There is amazing and creative action happening in areas as diverse as food security and sustainability, or countering militarism in schools and communities. Defence diversification planning is recognised as vital, along with campaigning on the negative impact on our safety and security of arms sales, whether this is through highlighting the effect of fuelling conflicts outside Scotland or responding with practical measures to the austerity imposed on Scots to pay for wars.
There are plenty of individuals and NGOs advocating ways to eradicate child poverty and other positive social action who are
working through civil society and cross party action at parliament and local authority levels.
The discourse around ‘security’ is the most significant stumbling block when it comes to the climate emergency,Trident, and the effects on Scotland from transnational corporations. To change the discourse, governments must learn to face the real risks rather than adopting a rhetoric that increases those risks. The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations in 2017 was achieved because of the participation of civil society, and the refusal to abandon the humanitarian arguments for its adoption.
There too, the powerful claimed a special (or racist) understanding of ‘security’. The treaty that was won was the first nuclear disarmament treaty to recognise the disproportionate impact on women and girls and to call for their inclusion in negotiations.
The Secure Scotland seminar concluded that it is imperative that we recognise that the UK (along with other governments) are applying the term security to privilege national security over the interests of people here and in other countries, through dominance and control over perceived immediate physical or military threats, without any actual definition of what it calls ‘the national interest’ or any long term plan or objective. This gives rise to policies that are ineffective, toxic and oppressive in complex ways that work across different affected groups and create distraction and inappropriate blame . All of this is predicated on patriarchal and profoundly undemocratic principles. The cultural, political, material and environmental opportunities to do better in Scotland are often disregarded, because of th
e myth of ‘security’ requirements, so those participating hope to take steps to highlight the opportunities and do what we can to redefine security and next steps will be identified when the information we have obtained is collated.
Secure Scotland does not aim to distract anyone from valuable work they are already doing. The fact that Scotland, even without having yet achieved independence, has an accessible parliament, effective alternative media, a recognisable cultural identity, a work ethic that includes being the change you want to see, and since there are only 5 million of us, we can talk to each other. Extinction rebellion is alerting everyone of the action that’s needed for the climate, and its time to call out the real requirements for our security and our survival.
Following the seminar, the actions and the reaction,of the XR protests were described by Chanel 4’s Alex Thomson saying “Nonviolently arrested total is now over 1000. We have not seen anything like this from a protest movement in London. Uncharted waters. Police wrongfooted. Party leaders lost.”. Seems like real movement starting, and this urgency is needed in every area of our efforts for Scotland. The Doomsday clock, set by the atomic scientists is at 2 minutes to midnight with life on the planet at risk of extinction from the effects of climate change and nuclear Armageddon. Governments, including the UK Government, are choosing that as our future, and no future at all for our children and our grandchildren.
Greta Thonberg, 16 years old and from Sweden, spoke for us all in her address to them, “I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.” Some people are saying that she should be given the Nobel Peace Prize, but there are those who think it is our attention and respect she should be given, and a far better prize would that be her words are acted on. Find her full speech easily on you tube, face-book or in the Guardian. Secure Scotland is one of the ways to equip and connect more of us to fix it. If you’d like to know more, who is involved and read the full report on the seminar, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janet Fenton April 2019
4.30pm Tues 16 April – 2.00pm Thur 18 April
This is a chance for people who live here to develop a vibrant alternative vision to militaristic rhetoric around security at this turbulent and seemingly hostile time. Join the first event to to explore how Scotland can deal with risks at home, and contribute to peace and justice in the world.
Thanks to the Schiehallion Trust, Rethinking Security Network (rethinkingsecurity.org.uk) , Scottish CND and other contributors, our first event is a fully funded seminar for 20 in the peaceful and beautiful surroundings of the Allanton World Peace Centre with wholesome food in a simple setting and a chance to spend some time in the grounds and gardens talking and planning change.
This will allow 20 people, not only some elected representatives and researchers but a good selection of influencers from across a spectrum to join in an initial residential seminar which aims to inform and start a 3 year programme of action. We seek the involvement of civil society, academia, faith groups and community and cultural figures who can together consider real security,how things that make people feel safe can be put in place and who might do that. Please let us know if you would be interested in being involved, or if there are names of others that you think we should reach out to. Work is based at UN House Scotland, in Edinburgh. Our aim is new legislation, community and academic or civil society action and a network of individuals and groups to shift prevailing discussions on ‘Security’, away from toxic militarism, environmental degradation and patriarchal dominance and dealing with real threats experienced here in Scotland – naming them and providing impetus for change. The project also proposes to survey/audit what makes people/organisations feel secure and create a code of practice with all appropriate actors – faith groups, trade unions, community activists, peace groups.. We have three objectives, all aim to develop peace and security:
•Identify cross-party collaborations for security that resist toxic adversarial politics, in
and beyond the Scottish Parliament.
•Make plans for some practical action for the well-being of the majority in Scotland.
•Identify and highligh the real security needs that Scotland faces
The Core group is: Gari Donn (ED UNHS, UNAScotland Edinburgh University international education), Malcolm Spaven (Scottish Greens, author Fortress Scotland, aviation & defence consultant),Janet Fenton (SCND, WILPF,Acronym, former Scotland’s for Peace manager) David Mackenzie (former LEA Education Adviser & Principal Officer)
– Further info and contact email@example.com
Wey Forrit – Reflections
In the week beginning 11th March 2019 a series of meetings were held in Glasgow and Edinburgh featuring European visitors and discussing peace-building opportunities and challenges in the context of Brexit, the future of NATO and the militarisation of the European Union. A detailed compilation of their presentations over the three meetings is below this article.
At first glance the contributions of the four speakers to the meetings could be seen as diffuse, with no obvious unifying theme. Given time to digest the inputs, the messages are both coherent and relevant.
One element in the meetings was represented by two speakers from small countries, Scotland- sized but independent, Anne Palm from Finland and Roger Cole from Ireland. Both nations, in tension with that independence and a good track record on positive international diplomacy, have behaviours that place them firmly in one or more of the world’s major power blocs and with dubious connections to global conflict. Ireland has the notorious Shannon airport contradiction and is content to play its part in the militarisation of the EU. Finland provides intelligence to NATO and has a significant arms exporting record, some of it to dubious regimes. There is a marked difference between Anne and Roger on the EU. Ann sees the EU as a positive institution and feels the military plans do not amount to much while Roger reckons that the EU has imperial ambitions that it is increasingly ready to back up with a genuine war-making structure.
Many will feel that tension within their own take on the EU and on Brexit, responding on the one hand to the early post-war European vision for peace across the continent and the EU’s institutional frameworks for human and workplace rights and for environmental standards, and on the other to the realistic recognition that the Union operates as a global trading bloc on neo-liberal economic principles, making it highly plausible that it will aspire to a fully-fledged military identity. It also seems highly likely that Brexit will serve to accelerate that process, given that the UK has been resistant to a clear EU military identity on the grounds that it will undermine NATO and reliance on the US for military security.
All these questions and suggestions are sharply relevant to a Scotland moving towards independence. Those of us who want our country to be for peace will interrogate such options as we will have. This will include looking twice at any EU membership option and exploring whether Danish-style military opt-out protocols are possible. Can we be genuinely non-aligned or do fail to set our ambitions beyond a fudge in which our bloc alignment actions are covert or simply downplayed? On the positive side will we match Ireland and Finland in contribution to genuinely inclusive international institutions? Will our concept of security be limited to conventional military threat-related perspectives or based (as Anne Palme proposed) on real human needs?
The scrutiny of the future options also impels current action. There is much that we can do right now to contribute to the inclusive international institutions by seeking assertive and imaginative ways to participate on the basis that so much of our aspiration for a peaceful world is subverted by being formally represented through the narrow channel of the UK.
There are the tricky but inescapable challenges in Scotland’s arms exporting and the support the Scottish government give to it. There’s education, formal and otherwise.
Then there is the question of whether we will have any future at all. Dave Webb’s presentation of one of two (known) existential threats we face was stark He made it clear that our response needs to be global in its perspective, in the way it works at solidarity, in the way it links the grass-roots with the governmental and diplomatic, in the requirement to work together worldwide to provide the essential counter-narrative. Working for the TPNW covers all these elements.
Ann Paterson’s contribution took us to the heart of the dynamics of violence and of peace. Her warning that internecine violence can break out at a moment’s notice is to be heeded. We are aware that our social and political discourse has become more and more polarised. We need to balance our commitment to good and just stances with the ability to cross the boundaries and identify common values. In the peace movement we have the resources to hand to do this but we have to give this part of the work greater prominence and status within our programmes and personally.
David Mackenzie February 2019
Dave Webb, chair of UK CND, has a science background and at one time worked for the MoD on assessing Soviet threats in space. Appalled by the confrontational “worse-case scenario” approach of the planners he got involved in politics during the mass movements of the early 80s. The possibility of intermediate range nuclear weapons coming back into Europe is alarming. NATO has completely reneged on the agreement it made at the time of the break up of the Soviet Union that the Alliance would not seek members among those states physically closest to Russia in order to have a buffer zone. Acknowledging that there was currently no such mass movement confronting the current perilous situation but there is hope that one can now be built, especially given the grass-roots impetus behind the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The SNP in changing to a pro-NATO policy has made a serious error given that the UK’s nuclear weapons are allocated to the alliance and how the NATO military infrastructure is designed to be inter-operable with US systems to the benefit of US arms corporations. In this scenario the UK cannot fail to have a first-strike nuclear policy since that is the NATO stance. As regards the increasingly militarised EU, do we leave or stay in and attempt reform. We should bear in mind that there are three forms of violence, direct, structural and cultural and all need to be resisted. Co-operation and negotiation has to be the way forward.
Ann Patterson of Belfast Peace People. In Ann’s experience most people are peace people. The roots of her own pacifism was the accounts of the Holocaust told her by her Jewish teacher. Ann worked with the Quakers and was aware of their good reputation in Ireland. On one occasion amidst the anger of a big protest against the release of 3 convicted British soldiers her Quaker minibus was let through the crowds by protesters who said that the Quakers had saved so many during the Famine. She had engaged in prison education in the infamous H Block. The horrors of ISIS and Syria recalled for her the terrible state of NI during the troubles. The founding of the Peace People resonated very deeply across the polarised and divided community, and very quickly resulted in the formation of nearly four hundred small but vociferous and active groups forming and demonstrating locally every week, eventually this included together travelling to London where together they filled Trafalgar Square.
Ann showed a moving film about the NI Troubles and the widespread revulsion at one particular tragedy that led to peace-making across the boundaries. There was the sense that the community had lost its soul and that the violence had to stop somehow. The Brexit threat to the open border between north and south is very worrying since violence can break out so very quickly in an apparently calm and stable situation.
Ann Palme, of the Finish Wider Security Network (formed 2015) spoke of the Finnish view on peace. The Network operates in an integrated way with Finnish Government rather than just as a pressure group.
Finland has not been involved in armed conflict since 1944 and is currently at No 7 on the Global Peace Index. Current concerns are the Trump unpredictability, Russian aggression, the general descent into power politics and Brexit – all indicating a decline in international co-operation. Ann was very positive about the EU and the need for a common security and defence policy. In her view the European army was hardly a reality. She said that Finland has stayed out of all alliances and plays a big part in peace-keeping via the UN and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Finland only became independent in 1917 after being part of Sweden and then Russia with whom it shares a 1340 kilometre border. Finnish people just want a quiet life! Finland has not signed the TPNW due to its NATO alignment and says that the NPT is the important treaty in regard to nuclear weapons. added that the main parties in Finland wanted to stay out of NATO, a stance affected by Russia’s proximity, but still remain closely co-operative with it. Peace-building and mediation are essential and we need more women and young people to be active in these fields. In its mediation activities, Finland pays special attention to measures that enhance the role and ownership of women in peace processes in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, “Women, Peace and Security”. Finland has its own National Action Plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325, and Finnish experiences have been shared with partners in countries such as Kenya and Afghanistan.A big advantage in Finland is government funding, without strings, for NGOs. Scotland could play a significant part in peace-building and mediation. The Finnish have the word “sisu” (stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness) to describe their national character, a term similar to the Scottish “smeddum”!
Roger Cole of the Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). PANA is committed to Irish independent operation in the context of the UN and was instrumental in initiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Roger spoke of the growing militarisation of the EU and the recent mentions by Macron and Merkel of the European Army. Based on its concerns about neutrality PANA had campaigned at a series of referenda on Europe, including successfully at the first referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The plan for developing the EU as a military power is in the Lisbon Treaty leading to battle groups and the 2017 EU Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defence Organisation (PESCO), and it could involve nuclear weapons. It is notable that Denmark in joining the EU did so on the basis of protocols which excluded it from the the military dimension. As things stand for Ireland membership of the EU and involvement in the military aspect mean that the Irish have given up their loyalty to their own country in favour an external union. PANA is in favour of an economic partnership and does not advocate leaving the EU. Independence and neutrality are key. Irish neutrality is of course critically compromised by the use of Shannon airport for regular transit of US forces. Most Irish people, though against the never ending wars, know nothing of this – it is not reported in mainstream media and we have to harness the power of social media to get the story out. PANA now has the support of 52 Irish parliamentarians and 70% of the population is against the US use of Shannon. While stressing neutrality and independence Roger was clear that PANA’s is not a “Little Irelander” stance and it supports independence for others, such as currently Venezuela.
A chance to look at BREXIT NATO PESCO OSCE with some experts from Europe.Meetings on 7.00pm Tuesday 12th YESHUB Lasswade Road Edinburgh, Wednesday 13th in Glasgow check venue with SCND, or Thursday 14th at the Quaker Meeting House in Edinburgh. More info, and here’s yer invitation
House of Lords
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE CALL FOR EVIDENCE: THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY AND NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
Scottish CND have submitted the following responses to the questions posed
1. What is your valuation of the current level of risk?
A Chatham House 2016 report offered to the Open Ended Working Group of the UN on prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons concludes that nuclear weapons pose overwhelming dangers to global health, development, climate, social structures and human rights and suggests that human security and survival of the species is under threat from them.
The Atomic Scientists Bulletin have set the Doomsday clock rating for 2018, at two minutes to midnight (the highest level of risk since 1953), and agrees with Chatham House that accelerating climate change and the continued existence of nuclear weapons present an inextricably linked existential risk to life on earth. The possibility that nuclear weapons might be used through accident or deliberately is increased through reckless rhetoric, increased numbers of non governmental actors active in conflicts, especially where governments are fragile, and increasing technological developments that make nuclear weapons more visible and vulnerable to attack.
2. Ahead of the 2020 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), what are the biggest challenges facing global nuclear diplomacy?
Despite the adoption at the UN of a new treaty to provide a robust legal instrument specifying prohibition of nuclear weapons to complement the exiting nuclear diplomatic regime (The TPNW), lack of political will and inaction from governments who persist in reckless empire building and refusing to work together or address evidence-based assessments regarding climate and other global challenges present a huge challenge to progressing nuclear diplomacy. Governments must respond to the scientists and NGOs which can provide expertise and evidence. It must work with them to create legislation and co-operation to deliver the elimination of all WMD. Scottish CND supports an international approach to encouraging member states to sign and ratify the TPNW in order that it can enter into force as soon as possible, prohibiting nuclear weapons and leading to their elimination.
a. To what extent do states still view the NPT as relevant?
Nuclear-armed states that are signatories to the treaty are increasingly attached to security doctrines that they see as allowing them to maintain nuclear weapons and to forestall their obligations to disarmament under Article 6. Some consider that nuclear disarmament does not address today’s security problems, and advocate delaying disarmament until the risk is diminished, rather than recognising the urgency of disarmament in addressing the increased risk. Many other states, inside and outside of the NPT, see the TPNW as a critical component in facilitating the NPT in achieving its purpose. Scottish CND considers that, in becoming a party to the TPNW, the UK Government could fulfil its NPT obligations.
b. What are the prospects for other components of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT)?
Like the NPT, The CTBT has provided a useful step in stigmatising nuclear weapons and nuclear testing. Despite the CTBT not entering into force,(critical nuclear-armed states are not committed to it) it has had an effect in slowing down the arms race and altering the perspective that nuclear weapons use has legitimacy. Important lessons can be learned, and continued negotiation can highlight sticking points, and the progress made in overcoming them. But without the absolute prohibition which the TPNW could provide, important ground gained can be lost when member states limit or even withdraw their support from existing agreements (for example the INF). Scottish CND acknowledges the importance of these other components and strongly advocates that the UK Government takes a positive approach to preparing for the TPNW’s entry into force, especially because it has already an important place in the rule-based international regime and it has already had a significant impact on diminishing financial investment in nuclear weapons. Scottish CND hopes that the UK Government will engage in meaningful discussion of how the TPNW can impact on UK foreign policy in the next few years. At the very least, the Government should agree to attend future meetings of TPNW state parties as observers, and ensure that it provides such useful technical assistance in areas where it can such as verification. It should also consider contributions it may make to remediation in countries where the UK has tested nuclear weapons. The UK Government should maintain and increase dialogue with UN member states which are committed to the TPNW
c. How important are these agreements to the wider rules-based international order?
These agreements are at the heart of the accountability of governments, not only to the people that elected them or on whose behalf they govern, but in their shared responsibility beyond borders, to preserve and explore the acceptable boundaries of human behaviour without recourse to violence and the use of force. Scottish CND requests that the UK Government avoids misconceptions by participating and contributing to the processes and opportunities that the UN regime offers and ensuring that these are communicated clearly to the public.
d. To what extent does the existence of three nuclear armed states outside the NPT (India, Israel and Pakistan) destabilise the overall regime?
The overall regime has failed to achieve non-proliferation as far as these states are concerned because the nuclear-armed states have failed to deliver nuclear disarmament, leaving their argument that they need the weapons for their own security open to adoption by other states. If the existing NPT state parties were to take a position that the present state of global insecurity requires them to maintain and modernise their nuclear weapons at the 2020 Review conference it would seem very likely that other states would follow the example of India etc. Hopefully the existence of the TPNW may stop that from happening. The continued existence of nuclear weapons in politically volatile regions like the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the northern Indian subcontinent increases the likelihood of accident or use by governments or non state actors.
e. What prospects are there for a Middle East WMD free zone?
The best prospect for a Middle East WMD free zone lies in allowing and supporting negotiations between interested parties without external interference or military support. Scottish CND hopes for consideration to be given to the impact of UK investment in the arms trade in the region.
The United States
3. To what extent will the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, as well as US efforts to achieve the denuclearise of the Korean Peninsula, affect the wider nuclear non-proliferation regime?
Scottish CND regrets the US withdrawal from the Iran deal and considers that the UK Government should distance itself from US nuclear posture in the MENA and across the South Pacific region at the present time and instead offer facilitation to actors in the regions to participate in negotiations without self-interested influence from states outside the region.
Nuclear arms control
4. To what extent and why are existing nuclear arms control agreements being challenged, particularly the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), and what prospect is there for further such agreements? What prospects are there of progress in negotiating a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT)?
Challenging of these treaties puts us all at grave risk. Unfortunately, it is a risk that will persist as long as nuclear weapons exist in the world. Scottish CND would like to see the UK Government to take immediate and urgent steps to bring about dialogue and negotiation between treaty state parties, to make the best diplomatic efforts that it can to preserve these treaties while recognising their limited scope, and so to recognise the need to engage with the TPNW and the governments in the world that are working for complete prohibition of all nuclear weapons leading to their complete elimination.
5. What effect will nuclear renewal programmes have on the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime? To what extent could technological developments—including in missile capabilities, warhead strength, and verification—undermine existing non-proliferation and arms control agreements?
Modernisation of nuclear arsenals carries a cost to other government programmes, involves automated systems that carry an inherent risk through lack of possibility for human intervention at an early stage in failure, and heralds the start of a new arms race. Planning upgrades rather than elimination might be seen as unwillingness to consider disarmament at all, a view that is reinforced when nuclear-armed states have governments that project a volatile and unpredictable political world order.
6. To what extent will technological developments, both directly relating to nuclear weapons and in the wider defence and security sphere, affect nuclear diplomacy?
New technologies and detection capability mean that the policies of neither confirming or denying the presence of nuclear weapons, along with maintaining their invisibility and the invisibilities of (for example) submarines carrying them can no longer be relied upon. The unpredictable rate of climate change and some of its effects, mean the possibility of nuclear activity triggering uncontrollable global impact cannot be accurately predicted. It will become increasingly difficult for trust to be maintained amongst so many unknown elements that diplomacy will be compromised.
The development of drones, and cyber warfare methods and activity by non state actors mean that the use of nuclear weapons without state sanction is increased. There is no ‘safe pair of hands’.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
7. If it were to enter into force, how would the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (commonly referred to as the Ban Treaty) affect efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and bring about disarmament?
The history of efforts towards elimination of weapons shows that prohibition has a huge impact on indiscriminate weapons losing their political and reputational status and being seen as shameful and unacceptable. This will make their acquisition, and therefore proliferation, a very unattractive proposition. This process has already started with the TPNW, with over 50 major international financial institutions already divested from nuclear weapons since the TPNW was adopted. The negotiations for the TPNW also flagged up the democratic deficit in nuclear weapons policies globally, and the treaty’s highlighting the disproportionate impact on women and girls will increasingly inform decision makers across the world when the treaty comes into force. State parties will reconsider their alliances, and when threatening to use nuclear weapons is widely regarded as a breach of International Humanitarian Law, it will be difficult to reference nuclear deterrence as a legitimate form of defence
8. What are the policies of other P5 countries (China, France, Russia and the United States), and the UK’s other partners, on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and on nuclear weapons more generally? Have these policies changed, and if so, why? How effective has the P5 process been, and what role will it have in the future?
Member states in the P5 hold differing positions on aspects of nuclear diplomatic ideology, for example different stances on negative security assurances. It is difficult to gain a real understanding of what these differences mean or what they offer without a far greater degree of transparency and discussion than is presently allowed. The consensus rules of negotiation have shut down questioning around these differences and blocked any exploration of new initiatives. Blocks have even prevented any clear outcome record following meetings of the state parties.
The role of the UK
9. How effective a role has the UK played in global nuclear diplomacy in recent years? How could the UK more effectively engage on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament? What should the UK Government’s priorities be ahead of the 2020 NPT Review Conference?
The UK Government’s backing of the US threats to withdraw from the INF – and UK participation in the US-led inappropriate and undignified behaviour outside a UN conference (to which all of the P5 states had been invited) reduces UK credibility on the global stage as a state with a commitment to nuclear disarmament, as resolved in the UN General Assembly’s first resolution. It has partly redeemed itself in supporting the EU’s blocking statute on US withdrawal from the JOCPT. Scottish CND would welcome the UK Government making an unambiguous commitment to the NPT, including Article 6 regardless of any US position. We would also like to see the UK recognise the TPNW and work in preparation for its impact and its possible entry into force around the start of the NPT Review Conference in 2020. At this year’s final Preparatory Committee meeting in advance of the NPT Review Conference, we would like to see the UK ensure representation at Ministerial level.
From a Scottish perspective, the UK has misrepresented and disregarded the real concerns, questions and interests of not only the citizens of this country, but its elected representatives at Westminster, as well as the Government of Scotland and Members of the Scottish Parliament, while continuing to site and even planning to renew the UK nuclear weapons in Scotland. At the very least, The UK Government should include representation on a delegation to the NPT Prep con in May by at least one Scottish member of Parliament from Scotland’s majority party at Westminster plus a representative, elected or official, from the Scottish Government, to be selected by Scotland’s First Minister.
This submission was prepared on behalf of Scottish CND by Janet Fenton. Any questions may be addressed to janet@wordsandactions
A message from Karine Polwart came in on the Nae Nukes Day, it was good to know we were in her thoughts – and Sylvia Mc Gowan chose to sing “Better Things”,the song Karine wrote and gifted to Scotland’s For Peace about Trident replacement and so her spirit was very much in the air, and I remembered her performance at Celtic Connections the day Donald Trump was inaugurated.
But the 22nd was not a day for politicians though several were there as citizens of the Scotland they chose to represent. There were the international campaigners many from the other nuclear-armed states which, like the UK have chosen to ignore the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted last year at the UN. They came to support Scotland in standing firm in the face of the UK’s intransigence, and to make it clear that it is not Scotland that holds a minority, out-of-step view, but the UK’s government at Westminster. And there are plenty who believe that Scotland’s view must prevail if we are to survive. A celebration, albeit around a sombre topic. Continue reading “REFLECTING ON THE NAE NUKES RALLY”