There is a big team of ICAN campaigners from all over the world here at the UN meeting talking to the diplomats and doing our best to ensure that the Nuclear Armed Stated don’t have it their own way in derailing this important step forward which has come about through the citizens of countries (like Scotland) who understand that nuclear weapons pose a threat to everyone in the world, not just the nine governments that control them. I am very glad that I have been supported to be here from Scotland along with MSP Bill Kidd to do our part in helping to do the best we can as the debate goes on. The First Committee is talking about different areas of disarmament, not just the ban treaty. The vote on that will have to happen before the end of the session on the 2nd of November although discussions on the ban treaty are scheduled to be completed today.
Despite the best efforts of Theresa to renew Trident, no questions asked, the world is preparing to ensure that events will overtake her preparedness to press the nuclear button.
As she commits the UK (including Scotland) to austerity, unpredictable expenditure and a deranged level of risk by upgrading Trident, the overwhelming majority of world states are working at UN this week to establish a conference in 2017 to begin the process of creating a ban treaty as a first step in the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
The security council of UN comprises the nuclear weapons armed states who are signatories to the Non Proliferation Treaty which was initiated in 1968 by Ireland, a neutral country that does not possess or host these weapons.
The first resolution that UN agreed was to eliminate use of atomic weapons. That was in 1945, shortly after the US Government, with the complete formal assent of the UK Government, had authorised and implemented the incineration and radiation of two cities in Japan that were full of civilians, at the point when Japan’s surrender at the end of WWll was in negotiation.
In 1967, the UN’s First Resolution was not happening and the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was introduced. One of the main initiator was Ireland, a neutral state during WWll who did not have any nuclear programme. The NPT deal allowed signatories access to atomic (nuclear) technologies for civilian application proved they didn’t develop it militarily, and the nuclear armed states were to have a bit of time to work out how to safely dismantle and eliminate their nukes. The phrase used for the way they would sort out how they would completely disarm was ‘in good faith’. The global community would understand that it might not happen next week, because radioactive stuff was dangerous.
Then there was the cold war, with Nuclear Proliferation meaning more states getting weapons and the states that had them increasing the size of their arsenals several times beyond the point where each ‘nuclear weapon state, as they were now called, could annihilate every species on the planet and render it uninhabitable in perpetuity. Testing had a devastating effect on military personnel, civilians, indigenous people, and the environment, The peace movement and resistance grew accordingly but the idea that the states that had the weapons had to lead the ban effort also somehow became entrenched although the addiction and the closing down of other possible approaches to ‘superpower defense’ was by now pretty obvious.
The NPT was reviewed fairly regularly in a United Nations forum where the states who had nuclear weapons could veto any decision made by each other or by the states that didn’t have the weapons. There were reduction in the stock piles and agreements that reduced the testing. Several new countries acquired nuclear weapons but they didn’t sign up to the treaty. Some countries who had nuclear weapons programmes gave them up, but they hadn’t signed up to the treaty anyway.
By 2010, a staggering 4 decades later, The NPT had not achieved non proliferation and there was no sign that the states who held the weapons were ready to disarm. UN general secretary told the NPT that it needed to sort it out, and get the weapons banned.
Then the International Red Cross and Red Crescent made a statement that, because the event of a nuclear exchange the humanitarian consequences would be so catastrophic that they would be unable to respond, and the only protection was a complete ban.
The next review of the NPT collapsed in chaos as the nuclera armed states would not even agree a minute of what had happened.
Conferences were hosted by states that did not hold nuclear weapons to look at those consequences, and a pledge (the Humanitarian Pledge)was initiated by the Austrian government to start work on a ban treaty. Ireland, who had been so committed to disarmament at the start of the NPT, was one of the states which was very committed to the process of supporting and highlighting the Humanitarian Pledge. Ireland also understood and sympathised with Scotland, which still hosts all of the UK’s weapons while opposing UK nuclear weapon policy.
The International Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (ICAN) had come into being in 2007 and has focussed on the effect and impact of the 9 nuclear armed states on the hundreds of other states. Like Ban Ki Moon, the UN general Secretary ICAN supports the NPT provided that the vital third pillar, complete nuclear disarmament (by states who hold nuclear weapons) in good faith proceeds.
The UN established an open-ended working group to look at how to “fill the gap that could lead to elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons” All States were encouraged to send delegates, and Civil Society Organisations could take part as well. The organisations like the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Red Cross who have consultative status with United Nations, could sponsor representatives from others.
Taking part is a big commitment not only for civil society but also for many of the states that are too wee or poor to have a permanent mission (ie an office with diplomats in it) at the UN in New York or Geneva. They have to get sponsorship to send delegates to the meetings so if the nuclear armed states choose to prevaricate and delay proceedings its difficult for the sponsored diplomats to stick around. Time differences can also be utilised to prevent diplomats from consulting their governments at home if the decision to be made is substantially altered so that they are forced to abstain from taking a position.
All of the Nuclear Armed states, including the UK Government with Theresa May poised to press the button, decided to boycott the OEWG process, on two grounds:
1. that it would involve proposals for a ban treaty which would undermine the NPT; their understanding of that being that they were ‘allowed’ to keep their nukes for as long as they want and that disarmament should be done step-by-step, however long that might take.
2. the meeting would not be done by consensus, so they could not block decisions and if voting was utilised they might lose the vote (Ironic, as none of the ban supporting states chose to utilise the right to ask for a vote, only Australia which is ‘protected’ by US nukes.
Scotland is not allowed a ‘state’ voice and the UK refuse to represent us. We have been there, in the form of of Bill Kidd MSP representing Parliamentarians for Non-proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, and I have been able to attend on behalf of the Scottish branch of WILPF and we have both received a lot of support from our international colleagues. Our First Minister has expressed support for the Humanitarian Pledge.
Some of the states who do not have their own nuclear weapons but are in NATO or have some other dependence on nuclear armed states view are under pressure from them. They are sometimes called ‘nuclear umbrella states’ as though they were protected rather than endangered and they are also sometimes called ‘weasel states’ though not usually to the delegates’ faces.
The OEWG finished its meetings in August, and the very very good news is that the recommendation by the OEWG to the United Nations First Committee with the backing of a large majority, strongly supports a conference in 2017 to negotiate a nuclear ban treaty open to all states and stoppable by none.
The Recommendation is being discussed in New York this week. It will go to a vote at the end of the meeting, that is the end of this month. If it is adopted, a ban treaty would make the states who support it able to refuse any nuclear weapons activity in their countries or waters including uranium mining or transportation and in addition to increasing the stigma (think of the change in attitude to having a drink and driving a car that happened when it was outlawed) it would create problems for nuclear armed states in military agreements and joint exercises.
Opposition to the resolution from the nuclear-armed states is expected to be fierce. Already they have sent “démarches”, or diplomatic instructions, demanding that governments withdraw their support for ban treaty negotiations and the pressure is likely to continue behind closed doors during the debate on the resolution in New York this week.
Along with other ICAN campaigners (and Bill Kidd MSP) I will be doing my best to counter this pressure wherever they can. Our supporters at home can do whatever they can to ensure that this historic decision is not kept out of public awareness.
Hopefully people will contact the BBC if good cover is not forthcoming and also report the story to both local and national press. Please call up phone-in radio broadcasts and raise it, whatever they are talking about. (you may have to be a bit inventive about what your wanting to say until you actually get on air).
On Friday 19th August in Geneva, Bill Kidd MSP and co-chair of Parliamentarians for Nuclear non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), and Janet Fenton, Scottish CND Secretary and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) representative, were both in Geneva to see a UN working group achieve what Mexico described as the “most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades.” The Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) voted to make a recommendation to the UN General Assembly in October, that it convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
This came as the very dramatic end to discussions that had taken place in February, May and August. Joint statements were delivered by Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and by South-east Asia and Pacific, as well as the statements from several European states. There was also active participation from civil society through NGOs and experts, including the Hiroshima survivor SetsukoThurlow, who took time to visit Scotland after giving evidence to the OEWG in May this year.
The nine nuclear-armed states had boycotted the talks despite a clear request for input expressed through the UN General Assembly, and a small group of the states who attended continued to argue that nuclear weapons provide an essential element in their national security. Fortunately these governments were unable to compromise the important recommendation which went forward.
Over one hundred states wanted to recommend that UN General Assembly convene a conference to negotiate a ban, but they wanted to ensure that all the states would feel able to participate in making that decision, and the chair was keen to ensure consensus if possible. Private discussions took place intensly over a day and a half between groups and compromises were made before the whole working group came together to approve the Chair’s final report half an hour before the final session was scheduled to conclude.
In an eleventh-hour copletely unexpected intervention, the Australian delegate intervened to disagree and force a vote. This seemed ironic, given that the states who did not participate and who did not agree that a ban was the right way forward were those who had objected to the meeting making decisions through voting.
The decision meant that the conference had to be extended in time and moved to a different room. Guatamala requested then that the text be clarified to recommend negotiation. Some pro-ban delegates were unable to vote because their governments were not contactable for approval to the changed text, and some were already booked on flights home.
Despite the problems and the absences, the amended text was accepted and the final, strengthened, report was adopted by a clear majority.
Amongst many delegates thanking the chair after the report was adopted, Bill Kidd MSP said
“I am a Member of the Scottish Parliament and a Co-President of PNND, actively engaged in the OEWG. The report of the OEWG reflects well the reality that non-nuclear nations, as well as parliaments and civil society in all countries, can take action without having to wait for the nuclear-armed governments to come to their senses. We can do this.
In Scotland, our parliament and citizens have overwhelmingly rejected the possession of nuclear weapons. We take an active role in international efforts and processes for nuclear disarmament, including at the NPT Review Conferences, and we therefore look forward to participating in the multilateral negotiations in 2017.
As a Scot, living under the imposed nuclear weapons of the UK, I am pleased to note that UK Prime Minister Theresa May was amongst the leaders convicted by the People’s Tribunal on Nuclear Weapons that on July 8 this year convicted the leaders of the nuclear-armed States of crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and crimes against future generations for their responsibility over illegal nuclear weapons policies.”
Janet Fenton added
“It is now clear that Scotland’s efforts to dissuade the UK from its attachment to Trident is in line with the majority world view. Of those participating in the OEWG, at least 107 states support negotiations, and only 22 do not. Scotland will participate and contribute to the concerted challenge to nuclear weapons within and beyond these negotiations.”
Half a dozen peaceful protesters could use simple and safe techniques to close dozens of places that represent or administer Westminster’s foreign policy in this country, places in Edinburgh like The Scotland office in Melville Street, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, or in Glasgow there’s the Milton Street Passport Office, Brand Street UK Borders Agency office, then there is Dungavel Detention Centre and Balmoral…
Simpler acts like utilising a slow and friendly procession around all the pedestrian traffic signals in the city centres would create a bit of time for reading banners and enabling discussion of Ms May and her government’s policies. Remembering Thatcher And the Poll Tax, remembering the threats of Scotland being forced out of Europe if it chose independence, remembering the Tory consideration given to jobs for the miners in the 1980’s, will Brexit and Trident renewal indicate such disregard of Scotland’s elected representatives that non co-operation with the state becomes inevitable?
On July 1st at 5pm, the Scottish Peace Network is holding a centenary event at the Dewar’s statue on Buchanan Street in Glasgow city centre to remember the disaster of the battle of the Somme.
The Somme was the bloodiest battle of World war I. More than one million soldiers were either killed or badly wounded. In the end, the battle changed little and the war continued to grind on for two more years.
In addition to words describing the historical context and a a time for everyone attending to reflect on on war and militarism, poems twill be. Read, and David Mackenzie has written this for the occasion.
How long have we been at the school of the Somme,
My very dearest?
One hundred years at the school of the Somme,
If only the truth be known.
And in those years, these long, long years,
Tell me, how has our knowledge grown?
By leaps and bounds, my earnest love,
With the screech of the guns and the tearing flesh
And the strips of men hung on the mesh
From Belfast, Ems and Bangladesh
And the long, long list of their names.
And what about learning, sweetest my love,
What treasures have we brought home?
Ah, darling my dear, strategic sense,
Not to marshal troops in ranks so dense
And order them onto a barbed wire fence
And a blade of humming steel,
But to stay well clear of the killing zone
And summon the targets by mobile phone
Then finish them off with a mindless drone
And so cherish our delicate hands.
The wisdom that changes ways?
Ah, that is the gap in the course, my love,
Unfilled across the years
Wisdom, such as a child may know
That there are but two ways for the world to go
Mad Neighbourhood Watch and its whimpering end
Or to act in peace and carefully tend
The shoots of our bonds and love,
To know that war is the zero sum,
To stay unmoved by the flag and the drum
And care for all – from wherever they come,
In our little rowing boat.
The Scottish Peace network can be contacted here: http://www.scottishpeacenetwork.org.uk
The election in Scotland delivered surprises. A first impression that the Tories are back on the rise might dismay nuclear disarmament campaigners, but the reality is that our movement is rising in numbers and commitment.
The Scottish Labour Party is now agreed that scrapping Trident is the way to go, tossing an assurance about the jobs argument as a sop to the GMB Cerebus. Jackie Baillie, the Dumbarton guardian of Trident who managed a hundred vote majority to hang onto her seat, is a notable exception. Party leader Kezia Dugdale now accepts scrapping Trident, and is not the only Labour MSP who has formally signed up to support the 127 countries committed to negotiating a ban treaty.
Let’s not forget though, that it was the UK Labour Party that wrote the white paper for Trident replacement – and acquired nuclear weapons in the first place.
We know that the Scottish independence movement is not the same at the SNP. Greens want independence and have foreign policies that reject the UK’s ideas even more firmly than the SNP, Many Scots view party politics as anathema and seek independence as an internationalist ideal, contributing to world peace.
So the Tory revival? Hanging on to power (Trident) is at the core of the unionist case, and thus unionist voters abandoned the Labour Party at the polls in favour of the Tories. The overall rejection of Trident firmly rooted in support for the internationalist perspective continues to grow.
The turn-out was up a few points on the last Scottish Parliament election, but way below the referendum’s turn-out of the disaffected. Even without them, the pro-indy candidates took 48% with the pro-unionists at 50%, so support for independence is up since the referendum and way up on the last Scottish Parliamentary general election.
Horses for courses and tasks for days.
The SNP at Westminster represents the democratic deficit Scots so keenly feel on nuclear weapons and austerity. At home, the new Scottish Parliament can be more expansive, discussing affairs from different perspectives in the context of a clear and growing anti-Trident majority. In 2011 55% of the elected MSP’s belonged to parties opposing Trident. Now, 72% of MSP’s are in parties that oppose Trident. Lib Dems have more opinions on nuclear weapons than they have MSPs, and are even less consistent on other topics. Proportional Representation, albeit a limited version, delivers 35% gender balance compared to Westminster ‘s 29% and a wider view of the overlap between domestic and structural violence and its ultimate manifestation in nuclear weapons discourse.
What are the next steps political steps for Scotland? Down to us, Trident would be scrapped and Nicola would be at UN. Independence could disarm a UK with nowhere for Trident.
Meanwhile, can our new Parliament ensure our safety with nuclear convoys on our roads? What does Scots Law say abouti nuclear weapons? What part can the Scottish Government take in international negotiations for a nuclear weapons ban treaty? Ask your MSP!
Testimony from SETSUKO THURLOW, HIBAKUSHA
Supporting THE GLOBAL NUCLEAR BAN
4.30pm Mon. May 9th Quaker Meeting House 7 Victoria Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2JL
Setsuko Thurlow a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima will give evidence to the OEWG She is visiting the UK and will speak at a meeting hosted by Scotland’s for Peace.
Thirteen year old Setsuko was contributing to the war effort when the bomb exploded. She had to witness many deaths, including that of her four year old nephew, crying for water, unrecognisable because his little body was so blackened and swollen. Setsuko made her home in Toronto, and had a career in clinical and educational settings in social work. Now in her eighties, she brings her experience as woman, worker, and mother to help ban all nuclear weapons and their catastrophic humanitarian consequences.
All are welcome to attend this event . Please RSVP by email.
Press and interview enquiries to janetscotlands4peace 07795594573 in the first instance
Donald Dewar Statue, Buchanan St, Glasgow, 10 – 11 am, Friday 11 March.
Five years ago, on 11th March 2011 there was a major nuclear accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. There were explosions in 3 of the reactors. Radiation was scattered across a vast area. 160,000 people were told to leave their homes
Akiko wants the the world to understand something of what the disaster has meant for her, her family and many others in the same situation.
“It is regretable, but my country didn’t consider it a priority to protect its people.”
At the end of last year, I visited Japan as the guest Yuki Fujime at Osaka University Peace and Gender Studies department. We attended the World Nuclear Victims Forum at the Hiroshima International Conference Centre, where I learned of the work of Akiko Morimatsu, a Fukushima evacuee mother and one of the most active leaders of the anti-nuclear movement in Japan.
Speaking to the UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015, she states that the Japanese Government has been unable to recover control over the nuclear power plants since the disaster and should apologise for the ongoing contamination of air seas and land. The number of registered evacuees reached 347,000 by the year 2012. The majority are families with little children, which is her situation, and many others are forced to remain in contaminated areas due to lack of financial support. Evacuation involves double payment of rent and utilities with no fixed term, as well as emotional anguish.
“Was it right that we separated our son who loves his father very much from him? My husband could come only once a month..”
and complete domestic responsibility of the mother. The evacuees are dislocated from the men in the family, and she sees them as ‘internally displaced’ according to Human Rights criteria, a principle not put into practice by the Japanese Government who, she says, have also ignored the lessons of Chernobyl and unnecessarily put people at risk of radiation poisoning in efforts to minimise the impact of the ongoing effects of the disaster on the world stage.
I heard of how the clean-up had started and stopped, with contaminated topsoil being scraped from field and then left in exposed piles, areas where the removal of top sol had been abandoned uncompleted, and how the financial support for evacuees being stopped, leaving women and children the impossible choice between remaining away without means or returning to risk radiation contamination.
“They are wasting resources and money on decontamination that looks unscientific.”
In Osaka, where many of the Fukushima women are presently living, they have been described as ‘damaged goods’ to be avoided as wives because of the risk of birth defects, and the tensions and arguments within families are recognised in the expression ‘atomic divorce’.
10 March 2016
With the Gambia becoming the 125th country signed up to Humanitarian Pledge to ban all nuclear weapons while the UK is resisting the call to engage with international community,this is an important time for nuclear disarmament. The UK Government is pushing a vote on replacing its nuclear weapons system , while internationally delegates from around the world are meeting in Geneva this week to address the concrete effective legal measures and provisions that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a nuclear weapon free world.
The Open Ended Working Group was set up by the UN General Assembly and allows contributions and observation by civil society. The discussions started on Monday 22nd February and despite a lack of interest from the UK, discussion almost immediately zeroed in on the key proposal: a nuclear weapon ban treaty.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) a global campaign coalition working to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate and support negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The campaign was launched in 2007, and now has more than 400 partner organizations in 95 countries.
Sharon Dolev, the inspirational founder and director of Israeli Disarmament Movement (IDM), is visiting the UK this week and next, There is a meeting in the Scottish Parliament which provides a chance to hear her speak about IDM’s crucial work promoting Israel’s engagement with international nuclear disarmament efforts in a country where such a subject is deeply taboo, as well as promoting solutions towards a WMD free zone in the Middle East.
Bill Kidd MSP, is a co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, which was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Along with Green MSP Patrick Harvie, he is co-convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Nuclear Disarmament Cross Party group, and has raised nuclear disarmament motions at Holyrood consistently and frequently.
While he is vociferously opposed to the deployment of the UK’s weapons in Scotland, Bill has no time for nimbyism and has set disarmament in a global context from the outset, participating in many international initiatives. He hosted the launch of ICAN in Scotland in 2007, worked with the First Minister to ensure a clear expression of support from Scotland for the Humanitarian Pledge to eliminate the legal gap in prohibiting nuclear weapons and for Scottish representation in international disarmament forums such as the NPT and United Nations General Assembly.
This event, which takes place at 1.30 on Wednesday 2nd March is the latest in many parliamentary events that have been hosted by the cross party group to increase international co-operation and understanding of nuclear disarmament campaigning and diplomacy.
To All EU Parliamentarians
We started our meeting with a minute’s reflection on the terrible events in Paris last night, and our hopes for a future free from violence and hate.
We met today to discuss the use of wars to address political conflict, the acceleration of climate change and the ongoing environmental degradation which constitute the most profound challenges for our times.
We realize that these issues are inextricably linked. We may perish in the time to come, or we may flourish. Our work for human and planetary security is equally inextricably linked.
We recognised that women’s lack of human rights and the gendered perspective which equates strength and effectiveness with military spending and dominance excludes women and other people from authorative social and political roles in addressing these threats.
We recognise our own value, and the value and diversity of other people and consider that the right to life carries greater validity than that of borders, that peace is a human right, that our shared resources should be committed to meet human needs as a priority.
We are aware that these values are widely held, though not adequately represented in the fora where political decisions are made, and we ask European Parliamentarians to work together to ensure that these inextricably linked issues are responsibly addressed.
We ask you to consider some focus points identified in our discussions and respond.
- Because millions of people are forcibly displaced by floods, windstorms, earthquakes or droughts, an intergovernmental process is required for their protection.
- Th control of borders currently involves a militarised response to these movements of people, which creates conflict.
- Military expenditure represents the greatest part of global expenditure and is rising beyond the point at which governments can meet the basic needs of the people they represent. This has a devastating impact on the resources available to tackle climate change.
- Competition within the military industrial complex excacerbates this problem and creates a culture of secrecy and threats which undermines responsible environmental co-operation and diverts resources away from human needs .
- There exists a severe lack of investment in open and accessible education for conflict resolution and resources to ensure human rights are met, which urgently needs to be tackled. This arises through lack of political will in the face of corporate interest.
- All security agenda must focus on the prevention of war and poverty and ensure that a a gender perspective and women’s participation, protection, and rights are included in disarmament conflict resolution and policy making settings. peacekeeping, policy-making, and reconstruction.
- Investment in the nuclear weapons industry, much of it hidden, diverts scarce monetary and skill resource away from human needs. This requires a commitment to immediate governmental action for global nuclear disarmament.
- Nuclear accident or deliberate detonation are likely to cause global famine and irreversible environmental degradation in non-nuclear-weapons states and across the world. It is essential for all governments to recognise that technology for nuclear weapons and power are interlinked and together pose an existential threat for the whole planet.
- Climate change is a major cause of resource shortages and conflict, in addition from tackling the causes, it is increasingly urgent that energy and food can be produced locally to minimise the effect of shortages.
- Corporate and commercial influence over health care, and dependence on fossil fuels prevent governments from applying criteria that are in the best interests of those receiving the care. Commercial data protction laws require a level of secrecy that is not compatable with democracy.
From The Autumn Seminar Participants,
WILPF Autumn Seminar,
Orpington, England 14 November 2015