The recommendation to hold the Ban Treaty Conference came from the Open Ended Working Group set up by UN general assembly to address the gap in Article VI of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which does not prohibit nuclear weapons or define a method of achieving its goal of nuclear disarmament.The UK is a signatory to the NPT. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has worked to address this gap since 2007.
At the NPT the review conference in 2010, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (IRCRC) made clear that they would be unable to respond to any nuclear weapons exchange, and so parties to the treaty expressed their “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”. The following year IRCRC made nuclear weapons their priority. Three conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons hosted outside the UN by Norway (2013), Mexico and Austria (2014) clarified the urgent need to prohibit these weapons under international law. The UN set up an Open Ended Working Group in response. Though the working group was open to all states, and civil society presentations were formally made about Scotland’s perspective the UK chose not to participate, and therefore the Scottish Government was not represented in the working group either.
The Conference to negotiate a Nuclear Ban Treaty had its first session in March this year. This was so positive and successful that work on a Draft Treaty was begun as soon as the session was over. The Draft was made public on May 22nd and will form the basis for the next session of the Conference in June and early July. The UN Chair expects that the Treaty will be finalised then.
Along with the other nuclear-armed states the UK government continues to boycott the process but Scotland is sending a strong officially-accredited civil society representation to the June/July Conference.