The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted at the UN in July 2017 by overwhelming vote. Since that time 70 countries have signed the Treaty and 24 of that number have ratified it. It will enter into force once 50 states have ratified. The TPNW is for the prohibition and ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.
The minority of states which have refused so far to engage with the TPNW are the nuclear-armed states (9 in all), their client and dependent states and those states (like Australia and Japan) who for some reason consider themselves to be under the US “nuclear umbrella”. Lets call this whole group the Nuclear-armed States Incorporated (NASTI). The question for citizens of those states is: What can I and we do in this hostile regime to support and advance the Treaty?
Quite a lot, actually. First of all we need to get the fact that the whole campaign to advance the TPNW (a campaign led by ICAN) transcends national borders in a way we haven’t yet got adjusted to. It is vital that we do. The climate emergency requires a worldwide connected response and the same holds true for the threat of nuclear war. For one thing the efforts of folk in the NASTI states give enormous encouragement to people in the 70 signatory states to keep the pressure on for ratification, and, for the 24 ratifiers, to begin to work out all the implications of that huge step for their own behaviour as a state. The external pressure from the Treaty supporting majority is linked strongly to any and every internal crack we can open in the NASTI states. In Scotland we already have a fine wrecking bar inserted in the nuclear concrete – but more of that in a moment. Apart from the great work being done internationally by ICAN there are brilliant campaigns in a number of NASTI countries. For example there is the Nuclearban.US with guidance on house to begin alignment with the Treaty at personal and work up to community, city, state and national level. ICAN Australia have a lively and visible campaign and has engaged the support of many parliamentarians.
In this whole mix Scotland is more important than most of us imagine. We are almost unique as a significant part of a nuclear-armed state which opposes the nuclear weapon policy of that state and aspires, realistically, to independence, which could then disarm the whole UK. But it is critical that we play an active part right now.
Here are some of the things we can do to align with the Treaty:
- Read it! It’s not long and it is a beautifully clear and compelling document.
- Check whether you MP and MSPs have signed the ICAN Parliamentarians Pledge in support of the Treaty. The majority of Scottish parliamentarians have signed but if any of yours haven’t then please nudge them. You can check that here. For those parliamentarians who have signed dropping them a card or an email thanking them for their stance is a very positive thing to do. And, of course we may have a Westminster election in the near future when we are likely to need to approach some new MPs.
- ICAN have a very useful way for cities and local governments to register their support for the Treaty in opposition to the stance of the national government. Many cities in NASTI states have already signed up to the Cities Appeal, including Paris, Toronto, Sydney, Nagasaki and Berlin. So far in Scotland we have Edinburgh, along with Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire. ICAN partners in Scotland are working on how to move this forward but it is not too soon to approach your ward councillors to encourage them to get their council on board.
- Follow the money. When the Treaty is in force signatory states will be barred for aiding and assisting the production or deployment of nuclear weapons and this includes ceasing to invest in companies involved in their manufacture or any aspect of their system. Some large international investment companies have caught on to this and have already decided to take their funds out of nuke related companies. We can lobby our local government to do likewise (as West Lothian Council has decided to do). Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland has an excellent guide on the ramifications of nuclear weapon money. Institutions can also be challenged to disinvest but . .
- . . it is also a personal matter. You can check whether the bank or banks that has your money by using the guide or writing to them to ask. If they do you can ask them to cease and switch to an ethical bank or building society if they refuse. Engaging with them is really important.
- Keep in touch as far as possible with what is happening with the Treaty worldwide. ICAN International is on Facebook and Twitter, ICAN UK is on Twitter, and .
- . with ICAN work in Scotland via this website, Scrap Trident on Facebook and Twitter, Scottish CND on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and Trident Ploughshares on Twitter.