The Conference to create a Nuclear Ban Treaty is the most significant legislative move for nuclear disarmament in a long time. It stands with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in importance, and it addresses the shortcomings in the NPT, by filling the legal gap in how states disarm, with prohibition which will lead to elimination.
The resolution to start work on a Nuclear Weapons Global Ban Treaty was passed at the United Nations, with 123 states supporting it, 38 against and 16 abstentions, which included India, China and Pakistan. The rest of the nuclear-armed states made desperate efforts to stop it. The UK Government did not participate and they won’t take part in the discussions.
Our Scottish Government and Parliament are in favour of the ban treaty. The UK claims a democratic mandate to pursue upgrading the nuclear weapons at Faslane. As is happening with Brexit, the UK Government disregarded the voice of Scottish people and parliament. A clear example was an open letter to Boris Johnson from a significant proportion of our MSPs and pretty much every Scottish peace non- governmental organisation which has completely been ignored.
The UK government rides roughshod over the views Scotland has clearly expressed through the appropriate democratic processes. Westminster is not only dismissing what we want domestically but is actively misrepresenting us on the world stage.
UK Foreign policy puts Scotland in democratic deficit in the global community as well as at home. Scotland with its distinct legal system has very clear rights and responsibilities under international humanitarian law to insist that nuclear weapons are removed from the country and it has the political agreement of its citizens, expressed through its elected representatives, to ensure that we do so.
We have the possibility and the responsibility to try to start the necessary process of unravelling the nuclear-armed states dominance at the UN. The negotiations have been led by non-nuclear weapons states and civil society organisations, and participation of civil society is very much welcomed in the UN by member states. Now there is a call for non- member states to be admitted with observer status, so it may be that Scotland can be included. There may not be an obvious path forward, but in seeking and supporting Scottish independence, in tackling the very real risks to local communities presented by the warhead convoys, by focusing on the implications relating to climate change and remaining connected to the intergovernmental possibilities, we can find the cracks and drive the wedges in.
Climate change increases the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used. Severe weather crises cause food and fresh water scarcity. Increasing rates of human migration adds pressure on fragile governments, and these factors all increase conflict.
For these reasons, combating climate change must include the global banning of nuclear weapons. Scottish legislation on climate change is ambitious (despite Westminster’s control of our share of our economic resources, and difficulties in implementing it) and critical.