PEACE IS THE PRIZE!

To celebrate with ICAN when they receive their award in Oslo on the 10th December, why not throw a wee party?

 It is a weekend when everyone can share the story of how campaigners nobelpp2across the world got the UN to write a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, a story that includes the survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the millions of people affected by nuclear weapons testing and nuclear accidents, and a chance for all the peace lovers to take an hour off to envisage the world they are working for, when nuclear weapons are finally eliminated.

 The party can take place indoors or outside, in a pub or on the street. And then we share what we do. Make banners or make cakes. Upload your pictures and tune in to the events in Oslo on line.

There will be loads coming in on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend – about the award ceremony, the parade, the concert, all part of being the NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE.

eileen.pngEveryone can take some pictures or videos and upload them on Facebook and Twitter and tell the world how you are celebrating, anytime from Friday the 8th December through till Monday 11th. Don’t forget to share with scraptrident on Facebook and Twitter and make sure to use the hashtags #nuclearban #TPNW Watch out for Scottish participation! A special song by Eilen Penman, and some funky images and some interesting locations are already in the pipeline.To get the heads up about getting active for Peace is The Prize, private message the ScrapTrident Facebook page or send an email to scraptrident@gmail.com

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UPPING THE GAME

The arrests of Brian Quail and Angie Zelter in the few days after the UNIMG_20170711_071311 (1) has adopted a Nuclear Ban Treaty highlights the frustration many feel at Scotland’s position as an unwilling host for Trident..

Bill Kidd MSP was at the negotiations for the Treaty when it concluded. He said,

 “There are jobs to be done now and we’re all just the people to do them. We’re going to overcome the intransigence of the nuclear weapons stnikiddglovesates and their apologists, with their playground behaviour and silly statements about never signing the Treaty.”

Trident Ploughshares (TP) is a campaign to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a non-violent, peaceful and fully accountable manner. Disarmament camps have been taking place at Coulport since 1998.

This year, TP agreed that a camp at Coulport would take place immediately following and welcoming the adoption of the United Nations Nuclear Ban Treaty this year on the 7th July, in order to highlight the importance of the Treaty in the journey to the elimination of all nuclear weapons everywhere, to focus on the illegal and undemocratic deployment of Trident in Scotland and to remind everyone that citizen action everywhere is urgently needed.

It was here that Angie Zelter one of TP’s founders, with another TP stalwart, veteran of Scottish CND and retired classics teacher Brian Quail, peacefully blockaded the base, got arrested and have been locked up on remand until the 3rd August.

It is widely recognised within the UN that the success of the Ban Treaty Conference was not just down to the work of the governmental diplomats. Essential to the adoption of the Treaty was the work of nuclear disarmament campaigners, nuclear victims, climate change scientists and disaster response agencies, notably the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. Their input informed and directed the negotiations that led to the drafting and adoption of this important legally-binding treaty .The UK Government refused the United Nations’ request to participate in this process, and made the decision to refuse without either parliamentary discussion or consideration of the views of the devolved administrations in Scotland or Wales. Scottish civil society did what was possible to redress this, and Bill Kidd, MSP attended the Conference and gave the President of the conference a letter of support from the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Several Scottish MPs sent video messages of support for the Treaty to a well attended event at he Conference and these inputs were valued by the diplomats and the other NGO participants.

Upwards of seventy people took part in this month’s Coulport camp, creating an international community with people from Sweden, Spain, Canary Islands, and France taking part and sharing their understanding of how disarmament efforts are growing and what the Treaty will mean in many different places. In addition to blockades, activities included vigils at the Coulport bomb store, singing at Faslane nuclear submarine base, raising peace flags on the fence, “Town Criers” announcing the Nuclear Ban Treaty in Helensburgh, and hill-walkers challenging the MOD bye-laws that prohibit access to the Coulport hills. All of this provided opportunities for dialogue and much sharing of the Ban Treaty good news.

Two successful blockades of the entrance to the Coulport base led to the arrest of nine people, including internationals who will be going to their home countries, outside of the jurisdiction of the Scottish system before their trials. This might have been seen as a reason to refuse bail since their might be a question over their willingness to return, and the costs that would attach to extraditing them. However, two of those arrested, Brian and Angie, chose to refuse to sign an undertaking that would prevent them from remaining at the camp or peacefully and lawfully protesting at Coulport nuclear weapons store or Faslane nuclear bomb base until their trial on the charge of Breaching The Peace on the 3rd August. This was the bail condition that was set by the court under which they could be released pending their trial.

These bail conditions are not in the public interest, given the costs attached to locking the two up. Nor is it usual that such conditions should apply to individuals that present absolutely no risk of violent behaviour, The Scottish legal system is allowing itself to be politically biased in upholding the interests of the UK Government and the MOD in the prevention of citizens to protest and to demonstrate. It questions Scottish legal impartiality that they are doing so in a matter where the Scottish Government, in line with the majority of world governments, shares the views of the protesters.

The Ban Treaty will prohibit all nuclear weapons activity as soon as it has been ratified by 50 states – less than half the number which voted for its adoption, and its impact will be felt even in the UK and the other nuclear-armed states which declare that they will not sign up. There will be practical effects on their nuclear arrangements and the states outside the Treaty will be stigmatised in the same way that states choosing to utilise other banned WMD (for instance chemical weapons) are regarded as pariahs throughout the world. Going in the opposite direction, The UK Government plans instead more austerity cuts to pay for a nuclear weapon modernisation programme.

Angie questioned the police role in the arrest of the blockkaders on 10th July, reminding the officers of the Geneva and Hague Conventions and suggesting that they could refuse to arrest them as a matter of conscience and pointing out that:

Here in Scotland, there is an amazing chance to help this whole process of disarmament, and as a police force in Scotland, you have a much better chance to do that than officers in England and Wales, so if you could at least have a discussion about that, we would really appreciate that.”

It may be difficult for the Scottish Government to sign the Treaty when it is not at this time a member state of the UN. Can our distinct legal system and the legislation afforded by Holyrood be utilised to seek a way to ratify the Treaty’s terms in Scots Law? Perhaps Scottish lawyers and politicians as well as police officers could all examine their consciences with regard their part in banning weapons that could so easily bring such unspeakable suffering and environmental degradation to the world..

The 38 degrees petition calling for Brian and Angie’s release has been signed by upwards of 3000 people.

Such solidarity is not really surprising in a Scotland that so vociferously opposes nuclear weapons .If even a small percentage took to the hill, fences and gates to act directly on their support for the alleged lawbreakers, it would fill the Scottish police holding cells and the courts, and surely this possibility is increasing with every day we come closer to the 20th September and the first signatures on the Treaty.

While supporters consider this, details of how to write to the prisoners is available on TP and SCND websites, and TP stands by, ready to offer trainings in non-violence direct action, supporting activists, and legal observation of protest events.

Janet Fenton (attended the negotiations for the Ban Treaty with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Vice Chair Scottish CND, member or Trident Ploughshares) July 22 2017

WE HAVE BANNED THE BOMB

Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Adopted at UN

After a decade-long effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and 72 years after their invention, today states at the United Nations formally adopted a treaty which categorically prohibits nuclear weapons. Scottish CND has been a partner in ICAN since 2007

Until now, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction without a ban treaty, despite the widespread and catastrophic humanitarian consequences across the world of their intentional or accidental detonation. Biological weapons were banned in 1972 and chemical weapons in 1992.

ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said:

“We hope that today marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age. It is beyond question that nuclear weapons violate the laws of war and pose a clear danger to global security. It is time for leaders around the world to match their values and words with action by signing and ratifying this treaty as a first step towards eliminating nuclear weapons.”

Bill Kidd MSP, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Non- Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, added:

“All of the UK’s nuclear arsenal is based in Scotland, against the wishes of the Scottish Government the votes of the Scottish Parliament and the expressed will of the Scottish people. As a member of the Scottish Parliament, along with colleagues from Scottish Civil Society I am here in New York to speak up on behalf of our nation. The Prohibition Treaty will present a significant opportunity to present nuclear disarmament as a serious option on the table at international negotiations.”

The “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” was adopted today and will open for signature by states at the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2017. Civil society organizations, including those from the wider peace movement in Scotland, have participated in the negotiations as well as more than 140 member states of the UN

This treaty came about because  the majority of the world no longer accepts nuclear weapons as legitimate tools of war. The repeated objection and boycott of the negotiations by the UK and other nuclear-weapon states demonstrates that the treaty will impact on their behavior and stature and in changing the international view of nuclear weapons will change policies and behaviors, even in states that will not yet sign the treaty.

“Scotland’s opposition to the weapons in our country is in line with the global norm,” said Janet Fenton from the Scottish civil society delegation, “and now we have a great tool that can help us in our work to get rid of them.”

The treaty identifies obligations to the victims of nuclear weapons use and testing and to remediate the environmental damage caused.

From the beginning, the effort to ban nuclear weapons has had support of international humanitarian, environmental and disarmament organisations in more than 100 states including Scotland. Around the world, they signed petitions, joined protests, contacted representatives, and pressured governments. This year, Scottish CND established a Ban Treaty Working Group to prepare for New York.

ENDS ENDS

The website which documents and reports on activities and negotiations at the UN is http://www.nuclearban.scot

Trident Ploughshares are holding a disarmament camp at Coulport to respond to the treaty’s adoption.

http://www.tridentploughshares.org

More information about ICAN can be found on www.icanw.org.

 

THREAT: Ban military preparation in the new treaty

The discussions are now focused on the second draft of the proposed treaty to ban nuclear weapons ongoing in New York, and it is going well. There are still some additional improvements that we hope can be made, and one is to address ‘threat of use.’ Many states at the negotiations have asked about incorporating a prohibition on the threat of use of nuclear weapons. One way to get this is to have an explicit prohibition on military preparations for use.

Military preparations could include refuelling aircraft, exercises in preparation for use or targeting and other fighting arrangements. These are examples of activities but are not he only ones. Any concrete or tangible activity could be included, and this has been done with the chemical weapons convention, for example. This would remove or reduce the facilities needed for general military planning and training. It would also undermine or de legitimise the nuclear weapons secret structures, and lead to a more communicative approach with more democratic accountability for military planning decisions and improved open collective approaches to military alliances. This allows a shared public understanding of how these work and what they are. It is important to remember that NATO may have a nuclear strike policy, but that policy is not entrenched in the treaty itself, and could be changed. Modifications to the planes for example, would prevent future nuclear weapons capabilities. If the ban treaty includes the prohibition on military planning, that would accelerate the change in view of nuclear weapons away from ideas of stability to an understanding that nuclear weapons are instruments of terror and instability, and this will, at last, undermine and discredit the entrenched but psychotic and dangerous concept of deterrence.

The democratic benefit of transparent and accountable practice can, at last, provide the possibility of exploring ideological differences without risking the survival of our species.

from New York – half way there!

Continuing into this week of the negotiations, everyone is very aware of the deadline ahead, and it seems that the diplomats share civil society’s ardent desire to create an effective and unambiguous treaty by the end of the negotiating period.

The closed sessions continued today, allowing for questioning and plain speaking . Side events and work done outside the room was also looking forward in some respects, addressing how the finished treaty might be shared and what our collective and separate next steps might be. This included pushing forward on the ideas from our Scottish panel and extending them to explore ways that nuclear armed states and those that see themselves as dependent can share experience and tactics to build capacity, so a group is becoming established to do that. It was seen as essential to discredit any suggestion that the treaty is some sort of protest about who has the power instead of an expression of how inherently unacceptable nuclear weapons have been proved to be.

We hope that there has been sufficient mention from member states to ensure adding to the treaty’s main prohibitions threat of use, financing, military alliance planning, and transit. Fixing health and environmental impacts must be undertaken without discrimination, a binding responsibility that gives an entitlement to assistance from all states. If, as we hope, threat is one of the prohibitions we need to be ready to move forward in public education that the dogma of so-called nuclear deterrence has at last been discredited as a legitimate activity in any international relations that comply with the principles of United Nations.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/30835738@N03/

We also had some fun outside the UN with some masks and our own, non-lethal and non-radioactive ‘bomb’ as you can see in our action pictures. In addition to those, and some great new videos – Beatrice explaining the main elements of the new draft version of the treaty, and the International Red Cross and Red Resent video you can find on Facebook. Key arguments were strongly communicated in the conference by diplomats as well as some great inputs from the NGOs. (Most of these cannot be attributed or reported from the closed door sessions.)

At the close of today’s session, Dr Rebecca Johnson spoke to diplomats about four outstanding requirements.

First, a secretariat to promote the Treaty’s purposes and implementation would be able to engage with other bodies and also with states that are seeking to join.

Secondly, the the treaty should be of unlimited duration and not permit withdrawal.

Withdrawing from this Treaty would threaten international peace, security, human rights and our globally shared environment. At the very least if there must be withdrawal arrangement they should require a minimum of 24 months notice to give time to examine reasons and ensure that withdrawal did not suggest a security value in nuclear weapons or threaten global peace and security, as underpinned in the UN Charter.

Thirdly, to make it as inviting and credible as possible for states to join, implement and comply with the treaty,whether they choose to join and then implement, or to implement and then join in all cases to ensure necessary international verification and accountability. The text must avoid creating confusion or loopholes.

And lastly, while welcoming support and reinforcement of the NPT’s core objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, it is wrongful and also unnecessary for this Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty to mention any form of civilian energy production anywhere in its text. Referring to NPT “rights” is not only legally unnecessary, as the two treaties will exist alongside each other, but potentially dangerous.

 

CAN SCOTLAND DISARM THE UK?

In any referendum on independence, the people of Scotland are afforded a rare privilege, the power to cast a vote which can lead to nuclear disarmament. In the United States and France there has never been an election where a party advocating nuclear disarmament had a serious prospect of winning. Support for disarmament is widespread across society and civic Scotland, beyond the Scottish National Party membership to include Greens, Socialists and many individuals who eschew party politics. If Scots reject nuclear weapons, the UK would not have an alternative site.

Trident would not be relocated. Scotland free of nuclear weapons will lead to London having to scrap Trident and its replacement. Relocating Trident is not like moving house. In fact, finding a site for Trident would be far harder than trying to shift a nuclear power station. Two new facilities would be needed: a submarine base to replace Faslane and a nuclear weapons’ depot to replace Coulport. The second would be the biggest problem.The original choice of site was Scotland, and possible locations that were rejected are now even less viable. Greenfield sites are scarce, and nuclear activity is permissible only on existing nuclear sites.

The Scottish Affairs Committee of the UK Government considered the issue in 2012. Nick Harvey, Armed Forces Minister, said that relocating Trident was “the least favoured option, ”adding ”it would take a very long time to complete and would cost a gargantuan sum of money”. He told them, “Coulport would be very difficult.” Rear Admiral Alabaster said, “it would be very difficult – in fact, I would almost use the word ‘inconceivable’ – to recreate the facilities necessary to mount the strategic deterrent, without the use of Faslane and Coulport.” The Committee concluded, “Identifying and recreating a suitable base to replace Faslane and Coulport would be highly problematic, very expensive, and fraught with political difficulties.”

Utilising a facility abroad was also discussed. The UK government response to the Scottish Affairs Committee summarised the problems, “Operations from any base in the USA or France would greatly compromise the independence of the deterrent and there would be significant political and legal obstacles.” The Scottish Affairs Committee in the House of Commons acknowledged that unilateral nuclear disarmament would be an inevitable consequence of independence, if a Scottish government pursued current SNP policy and insisted on safe removal of Trident. Rear Admiral John McAnally, former Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies, said “If Britain were expelled from Faslane…it could be forced into unilateral nuclear disarmament”.

In June 2012 Scottish CND published a report which argued that the Trident nuclear weapon system could be put beyond use within 7 days, that all nuclear warheads could be removed from Scotland within 2 years and that they could all be dismantled within 4 years. The Scottish Affairs Committee of the House of Commons said: “ We accept the analysis of Scottish CND that, with the cooperation of the Navy and the UK Government, this process would be both speedy and safe” and the Scottish Government’s response was: “We are firmly committed to the earliest possible withdrawal of Trident from Scotland …. The suggested timetable is a welcome indication of how quickly Trident could be removed once Scotland has the powers to decide its own defence and security policy” The removal of Trident might be even more rapid. If the appearance of an independent anti-nuclear Scotland was imminent, Washington might insist that the American built missiles and the nuclear warheads, which contain American components, were removed from Faslane and Comport, and not left on the territory of an actively anti-nuclear sovereign state.

While the arms industries in England and America might try to use their muscle, we will have support from the many non-nuclear nations who are behind the global initiative for the Ban Treaty. It is wrong to suggest that if Britain abandoned Trident this would have no effect on the rest of the world. It could break the logjam and lead to wider progress towards nuclear disarmament. With a nuclear-free UK, France would have to reassess its expensive nuclear programme.

We must secure a constitutional clause for a future independent Scotland that puts nuclear weapons beyond the pale for any future Scottish Government. The Ban Treaty creates an imperative, and it underscores existing enthusiasm. Scotland’s commitment to nuclear disarmament is growing and becoming more articulate, a process which has gained traction since devolution and the establishment of a devolved parliament elected by proportional representation.

Scotland’s legal institutions and system of law was maintained after the union of the crowns and the parliaments of England and Scotland. It is distinct and separate from the rest of the UK. In 2009, a high-level legal conference was convened to consider Trident and International Law; Scotland’s Obligations. His excellency the late Judge Christopher Weeramantry, former vice-president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) told the conference that while defence matters are reserved to The UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament has international humanitarian and legal obligations that weapons of mass destruction violate. He said, “ Gross violations of international obligations aren’t excluded from the purview of the Scottish Parliament. The absence of power in the former area cannot cancel out its responsibilities in the latter.” He also asserted that non-violent resistance to nuclear weaponry could be justified in international law.

Anti-nuclear civil resistance is the right of every citizen of this planet. For the nuclear threat, attacking as it does every core concept of human rights, calls for urgent and universal action of its prevention.”

Non violent direct action has led to court cases where the legal status of the UK’s nuclear weapons sited in Scotland is challenged and reported. Tracking and recording the movements of warheads on public roads has led to many more people in Scotland becoming aware of the danger and the impunity in the UK Government’s actions in disregarding the will of the people.

Despite Prime Minister May’s view that the time for another referendum on Scottish independence is ‘ not now’, the current political situation in the UK and the increased support for Jeremy Corbyn might lead to a new opportunity to vote on Scotland’s future sooner rather than later. The Ban Treaty will be a spur to that happening, as we hope that Scottish opposition to UK nuclear policy can be a spur to changing it.

Note:

Further information from the late John Ainslie’s reports No Place for Trident and Disarming Trident on the Scottish CND website (http://www.banthebomb.org/index.php/publications/reports) or the office in Glasgow, his chapter in Reaching Critical Will’s Assuring Destruction for Ever and also from Trident and International Law – Scotland’s Obligations, published by Luath, Edinburgh

BANNING THE BOMB AT UN

The final session in the time that the United Nations allocated for its members to produce a treaty to ban nuclear weapons has began today.

In March, 133 states and numerous delegates to the Conference from the world’s civil society organisations made presentations and had the discussions that enabled the Chair, Ambassador Elaine Whyte Gomez from Costa Rica and her team to produce the draft text for the treaty that will now be at the centre of the work to be done between now and the 7th July when it is anticipated that the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty will be ready for signing.

There was powerful sense of excitement and an enthusiasm for the work amongst civil society representatives as well as the diplomats as the first part of the treaty, the preamble that identifies all the core elements to be incorporated, was explored one paragraph at a time. While one could imagine that this would be a dry and pedantic process, no one involved lost sight for one second of the significance of the task being undertaken and the consideration and attentive listening created a very exciting sense of progress and hope.

The activity was enthusiastically and prolifically shared on social media, and messages of support and appreciation were flowing in from across the world, for this ban is what’s wanted and needed by so many of the people in so many places.

Many states had similar ideas about how to augment what was in the draft, with discussions around the gendered impact of the harm and of the importance of women’s voices in the dialogue, and the importance of integrating recognition of the impact of nuclear weapons on social and economic development.

Most states and civil society wanted to strengthen the draft provisions around international humanitarian law and there was recognition that the treaty needs to clearly function in relation to existing legal instruments, including the Non Proliferation Treaty while addressing the shortcomings of these.

There were smiles and greetings in and outside the room, and the first side event of the conference, which considered how the treaty would be verified and the questions arising for both nuclear free and nuclear armed states.

We hope that agreements can be reached threat, and preparations to use nuclear weapons, and the Scottish delegates are particularly interested in the issues of the transit of nuclear weapons and hoping for an explicit prohibition on this and also on financing, and look forward to tomorrow’s side events, the launch of the latest counter arguments book from Quaker Peace and Social Witness Tim Wallis, and a pizza party with an opportunity to make banners and other props in preparation for Saturday, and the Women’s March to Ban The Bomb.

DRAFT BAN TREATY RELEASED

People in Scotland have been chanting ‘ban the bomb’ since the first US weapons came up the Clyde, so let’s be celebrating this week’s big news! The chair of the UN Conference to ban the bomb, Costa Rican ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez, released the first draft of the Ban Treaty in Geneva, Switzerland, on 22 May. She presented the text to diplomats and civil society representatives then took questions from the media. This draft is based on the elements identified by the 133 member states and the NGOs at the UN in March at the first round of the UN Conference, and it will be the basis of the final three weeks of intense talks during June and early July.

The Ban Treaty draft outlines how the Treaty will enter into effect , which can happen once 40 nations sign and ratify it. Signing by ambassadors can happen very quickly but it can take a wee bit longer for ratification. Essentially, each nation has its own process to incorporate the treaty into its own legal system, so it is law rather than an agreement by the government of the day, but the timescale will be months rather than years.

We need to get everyone talking and sharing this great news – it seems hard to credit that we are finally actually prohibiting nuclear weapons, but we are and this can lead to their elimination in time to save the world. Everyone can help.

On the first Saturday of the negotiations, June 17th The Women’s March To Ban The Bomb, in New York is being organised by WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) an ICAN founder member which has been instrumental in co-ordinating civil society’s important part in gaining the Ban Treaty. The plan is for representatives from as many countries as possible to take part in the march and rally, and to support the march at home too. The Scottish Working Group for the Ban will have our Scottish delegation in New York out with a big new banner. Check Facebook and this website to see the gatherings happening here in Scotland.

The nuclear weapons states which have said that they will not join the treaty will be stigmatised and shamed and the practical arrangements for the so-called nuclear “protection” services to the “umbrella” states will be affected in ways that will turn a political asset into a dangerous liability. The NATO states in Europe are good prospects for breaking with the nuclear alliance, and hopefully the SNP will see that clearly.  Once any question hanging over the legality of any nuclear weapon is resolved there is a clear argument that will convince banks and pension funds to disinvest and that will impact on the nuclear weapons states ability to continue their modernisation and upgrading programmes. Check out Don’t Bank On The Bomb on facebook or the ICAN website for more info. See the http://www.nuclearban.scot website for the Good News in a Scottish accent.

THE WORLD – NAE PLACE FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Friday was the last day of the first session of the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty discussions in New York. Second session starts in June till the beginning of July.

There was an exuberant excitement in the room at the enormous significance of what is happening, hard to communicate in the UK because the UK Government has resolutely ignoring the negotiations as their main tactic for resisting the coming change in nuclear posturing. and the UK media seem to be complying with that.

During the Civil Society debrief at the end of the session, New York  International Lawyer Alice Slater, who has been working in this area and attending UN meetings for forty years, said that she had never seen such good progress and open dialogue  in a UN disarmament meeting. She was very excited!

At the present count, 132 UN Member states have participated in this meeting. We started with considerations of what the preamble should include and the first topic of the treaty, when states could outline their views on what the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons should contain. Topic one outlined the prohibitions and topic two focused on obligations. This set out prohibitions and obligations that stigmatise nuclear weapons . On Wednesday afternoon, the President suggested that member states’ delegates could engage in an interactive dialogue with civil society experts on the issues under topic 2, working to identify what the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons should contain in the way of obligations, and how it will relate to existing humanitarian law and other legal instruments governing nuclear weapons and other kinds of indiscriminate weapons. And the format for Thursday allowed thoughtful deliberation and exchanges, and a useful example of how the United Nations can operate in terms of open, fluid conversation amongst states, international organisations, academics, and non-governmental organisations. This was particularly helpful around the positive obligations for states parties, such as ensuring the rights of victims and survivors of nuclear weapons activities, identifying actions to address damage to affected environments and providing for international cooperation and assistance to meet the obligations of the treaty.

The final session,  on the third topic, looked at the Institutional arrangements, continued in the same spirit, ensuring the process was open to all interested states, international organisations and civil society with no state able to singlehandedly block the treaty’s establishment. Its also important that it is compatible with, or reinforces existing treaties, and that there are robust arrangements for how it is implemented and how it comes into force. This topic also considers the necessary arrangements regarding participation in the negotiations – how and who.

The nuclear weapon ban treaty is a categorical rejection of nuclear weapons. Its overarching objective is to help facilitate the elimination of nuclear weapons. The treaty can and should be seen as part of the larger architecture of general and complete disarmament, and of peace, security, and human rights. It is not an end itself, but a tool.
Getting there requires creativity, especially when the nine states that possess nuclear weapons have exhibited no good faith commitment to nuclear disarmament. The discussions are creating a pathway to disarmament.

The president Elaine Whyte now has the task of drawing together all the views suggested to create the first draft,.All of us hoping for a strong and effective treaty must consider what we can do in the inter sessional period before the discussions on that draft start in June,

The non participating states ‘protest’ stunt outside on the first day, saw the UK right up there outside the room, misrepresenting Scotland with even more insouciance than they demonstrated over Brexit. They offered no new information though, and they did not offer any explanation of how they can comply with the NPT and at the same time upgrade Trident. Despite their cavalier insistence that the weapons will all be deployed from Scotland, there is no explanation on offer of how they would renew, or even continue, with Trident without control of Faslane.

Meanwhile, the important point for Scots is that independence can bring an end to all that. With the lack of infrastructure and amenities anywhere else in the UK, a fact that the UK Government nor the MOD has never denied*, Scotland could non-violently force the issue, and start the badly needed unravelling of the P5 and their nuclear addiction problem. The majority of states are moving inexorably to creating the Ban Treaty. Those who support independence for Scotland should welcome these negotiations as the other arm in a pincer movement that will ensure that UK can no longer be a nuclear weapons state.

There is a real possibility of Scotland taking concrete steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons through:

  1. Scrapping Trident

  2. Committing to, and eventually joining the Nuclear Ban Treaty

That’s why its important that people in Scotland who are serious about nuclear disarmament support independence, and people in Scotland who want independence work for nuclear disarmament. Win win!

The World – nae place for nuclear weapons

Today’s start of the United Nations negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban treaty means that multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts is at last in sight. This has come about through the examination of the real humanitarian consequences of these unspeakably destructive weapons that threaten life on this planet and even when not used, cause genetic and environmental damage beyond the imagination.

As part of its efforts to derail the process prior to the vote for this conference, the US had written to all its NATO allies to point out how difficult the ban treaty would make their nuclear ‘protection’ while simultaneously putting out press comments saying that that the treaty would be unenforceable and without meaning. Now the US are using their access to UN, not to enter the room and make their arguments in an open and accountable way, but to “protest” by offering a briefing on why they won’t participate. They are addressing the media (and any member states who will listen) but not taking questions.

The UK were right up there with them, misrepresenting Scotland with even more insouciance than they demonstrated over Brexit, despite their cavalier insistence that the weapons all be deployed from Scotland.

Independence, of course, will bring an end to all that, with the lack of infrastructure and amenities anywhere else in the UK, Scotland could non-violently force the issue, and start the badly needed unravelling of the P5 and their nuclear addiction problem.

The UN conference, which is open to all member states, starts today March 27th and runs till the end of the month, then continues in June and July.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), is a coalition from 100 countries of civil society partners who are active on nuclear disarmament. They hail the start of the conference as a major step forward.

Biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel land-mines and cluster munitions have already been prohibited under international law. . The position of the states that do not choose to deploy nuclear weapons, and do not see them as any kind of security asset, can easily be understood in Scotland, a state not in UN membership that is forced against the expressed needs and wishes of its electorate to host nuclear weapons.

A ban treaty is only binding on the states that sign up to it,. Achieving that is a first step in unlocking the imagination required to vision a world where sharing our resources and seeking reconciliation are the first response to conflict rather than the last. Declaring these inhumane and indiscriminate means of mutual destruction for what they are, and making them unacceptable in the majority of states will change their status from political asset to the humanitarian liability they really are. Work for the ban treaty includes the important contributions that can be made by civil society . Non member states which have access as observers may be heard. Maybe an opportunity for Scotland while waiting for independence. (Scottish CND is a partner in ICAN and convenes a working group for those working for the ban treaty in Scotland.

We in ICAN hope that many more civil society groups will choose to help to make representations to their elected representatives and get all the governments to the table, and also come themselves to New York for the June and July sessions of the conference. Meanwhile, follow the news on nuclearban.org and the daily news from Reaching critical will