They Talk the Talk – Do They Walk the Walk?

The big five nuclear-armed states that are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – the so-called P5 (China, the US, Russia, France and the UK) have issued a joint statement on preventing nuclear war and a nuclear arms race. This was presumably prepared as a positioning statement for the now postponed NPT Review Conference.

The statement contains a couple of notable positives. The admission that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought “– a deliberate echo of the Reagan-Gorbachev statement of 1985 – was made in a Biden-Putin statement in June last year and it is good to see it re-affirmed here by all the P5. The obvious logic of that stance (as Reagan and Gorbachev understood) is that nuclear weapons must be eliminated.

The second plus is more subtle and indirect. Even big nuclear-muscled states have to pay attention to their global reputational status and will attempt to deflect criticism before it sticks for good. In the context of the NPT Review Conference that criticism has focussed on the failure of the P5 to make any progress on Article V1 of the Treaty, which is why the statement defensively quotes that Article verbatim. If we put our justified cynicism about their motives to one side for a moment we can see that the fact that they have said this indicates a measure of power behind the barrage of criticism and challenge that has come their way, specifically from the accelerating credibility of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). This is a huge incentive to keep calling them out for the yawning chasm between their words and their actions.

A quick look at the actual terms of Article V1 will underline that chasm. Signatories are obliged to “ . . pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Cessation of the nuclear arms race? In Scotland we would say ‘Aye right’! What about China’s burgeoning silos, the talk of moving US nuclear weapons further east in Europe, Russia’s hypersonic missiles, the UK’s increase in its warhead numbers? Oh, and that “treaty on general and complete disarmament” when the TPNW, which the nuclear states have regularly dissed, is precisely that? Give us all a break.

Then there is the standard kicking of disarmament into the long grass, as we wait, patiently or otherwise, for “a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament”. There is no plan, no proactive step-by-step programme, no hint of recognition of urgency as the risks to the planet increase day by day.

One junior member of the P5 gang deserves special mention. The UK has been particularly blatant in its NPT-related hypocrisy, claiming to be Article V1 compliant while increasing the size of its WMD arsenal by over 40% and prompting UK CND to report it directly to the United Nations. And yet the UK may now acquire international significance in a way not at all envisaged within the Global Britain propaganda. Scottish independence is very much back on the agenda. A new Scotland, given the current popular and parliamentary rejection of the UK’s nuclear weapons, will very likely, with the full backing of the TPNW and huge international support, demand that the remnant UK removes its WMD from the Scottish bases and Scottish waters. Since there is no viable alternative to the Scottish bases at Faslane and Coulport elsewhere in Britain, the UK may find itself the first P5 state to be truly Article V1 compliant. Going back to the issue of reputation how much better it will be for the UK to recover the high ground by easing itself towards TPNW acceptance, rather than wait for circumstances to force it to do so.

A new report by Dr Rebecca Johnson of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy on how the UK could respond to the TPNW will be published to mark the anniversary of the TPNW entering into force See: oes-this-mean-for-britain-cnd-webinar/ to register

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Scotland’s Anti-Nuclear Allies in Europe

It was announced on November 24th that Germany will be participating as an observer in the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As one of five countries used by the US to site their nuclear arsenal, the fact that Germany is resisting US dominance and calling out their explicit opposition to the treaty by expressing intent to observe the negotiations is a landmark decision. This decision follows Norway’s announcement that they would be observing the Meeting, which came in early October. As the first NATO state, Norway’s announcement was significant, as it ended the unanimous resistance to the TPNW from NATO states. Norway was also the first nuclear weapon complicit state to agree to observe the negotiations.

Both Germany and Norway’s decisions are significant for the future of the TPNW and nuclear disarmament. By agreeing to observe the negotiations, they are ending the unofficial embargo made by all nuclear-armed and nuclear-complicit states against the TPNW. This has opened up space for other states to commit to attend the Meeting, broadening the impact of the negotiations and hopefully increasing the possibility for wider ratification of the Treaty. 

As a host to US nuclear weapons, Germany’s decision is notably contrastive to the US’ clear refusal to engage with any negotiations surrounding the TPNW. Germany’s situation as a host for nuclear weapons mirrors Scotland’s situation as hosts of the UK’s Trident programme. As former Scottish Green MSP John Finnie explained, “both nations are saddled with nuclear weapons imposed on them by others, and are thus potentially implicated in a crime against humanity” (cited in this article). Given that the majority of the Scottish people resist nuclear weapons, yet under devolution they are denied the power to remove Trident from Scottish land, it is imperative for there to be a Scottish presence at the negotiations for the TPNW. The Scottish voice is neither being heard nor implemented at Westminster, thus Scotland must make their voice heard on the international level, giving them the opportunity to have a say in the future of the Treaty. 

Scotland cannot follow the precedent set by Germany and Norway and commit to sending a delegation as observers to the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW, because it is (mis)represented at the UN by the UK Government and cannot join unless it gains independence. However, Scottish parliamentarians who have signed the ICAN Parliamentarians’ Pledge can attend. In that role, especially given that ICAN is coordinating civil society participation in the meeting, they can speak for us. Not only would this be a valuable opportunity to participate in the future of the nuclear ban, but it would also be an opportunity for Scotland’s perspective to be heard as a separate entity from the United Kingdom’s intransigent perspective in support of nuclear weapons policy. As an unwilling host of nuclear weapons, Scotland deserves to have its voice heard in issues regarding the implementation of and adherence to the nuclear ban.

Written by Christina Kelly

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The Other Existential Crisis

It is absolutely right that the eyes of the world have been on Glasgow and on the failure of COP26. Climate catastrophe is certain unless we take the radical repair measures immediately. However, this essential focus does mean that little attention is being paid to another looming crisis with equally catastrophic potential – the danger of a war that could go nuclear.

In many ways the present global situation is reminiscent of the decades leading up to WW1. There was the wrestling between states anxious to have the best trade routes and zones for exploitation. There were the parading of ever more powerful navies and armies. Old hegemonies were being challenged. There was the fear of encirclement by hostile forces. There was a tangle of alliances that was set to widen any localised conflict. The rivalry and the perceived threats were hyped by the press. The arms companies became more and more hopeful of rich profit. There was the vain hope that the bluffing and “deterrence” which had seemed to work in the past would continue to work in the future. In the background were the hawks and warmongers keen to press the buttons of narrow nationalism and paranoia. And as Europe slithered towards disaster it became too late to stop the momentum.

It is almost too easy to sketch in the present parallels – the swelling of military budgets, the nuclear weapons arms race – from hypersonic gliding missiles to ever smarter targeted warheads, the near collapse of arms control measures, the posturing, growling and snarling, our infantile brinkmanship with navies and air forces. During the Cold War a (very) relative return to something like sense took place following the Cuban Missile Crisis and again after the insane confrontations of the early 80s. In 1914 the peace-seeking elements in European governments would have hoped that there would be a recoil from the brink following the murder of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Instead, the outcome was four years of horror. And in 2021 there is little sign of a mature leadership among the big powers that could put a foot on the brakes.

We need to recognise that the destruction that unchecked climate change will unleash fully within decades can be achieved in just a few days in a global nuclear exchange. Even a “limited” nuclear conflict, for instance between India and Pakistan, would lead to starvation for millions due to the “nuclear winter” effect. Climate change that is not addressed is as inevitable as the progress of dry-rot in a building. The nuclear war threat is the petrol can on a wobbly table near the open fire. So far, so good, but the longer it sits there the more closely the risk approaches inevitability. In our nuclear history the can has been steadied several times as it threatened to topple. We have been very, very lucky. The next rational step is to remove it from that perilous location permanently, otherwise we will continue to rely on a luck that one day will surely run out. That is why the world so urgently needs the comprehensive and unambiguous terms of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – elimination is the only sane response. Fortunately, as support for the TPNW grows, so too does an equally fast growing global movement to take immediate action to address the dangers we face, de-escalating conflicts and co operating to protect life on the planet instead of making preparations to fight each other. Hopefully it will succeed. Otherwise there is no future.

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ICAN’s Beatrice Fihn at Scottish Parliament – ALL WELCOME

Meeting with Beatrice Fihn, Daniel Hogsta and Rebecca Johnson

21st September 2021 5.30pm.

You are invited to Scottish Parliament Nuclear Disarmament Cross Party Group meeting on the 21st September hosted by Bill Kidd MSP on UN International Peace Day.

This will be an important opportunity, as Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) the 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate, along with Daniel Hogsta, the staff member who is working with parliamentarians around the world on the Treaty, will be our keynote speakers on a panel along with Rebecca Johnson, one of ICAN’s founding chairs.

The Cross Party Group meeting will provide a significant briefing on the First Meeting of State Parties to the TPNW in Vienna in March, and on why it would be very valuable to the global disarmament movement if MSPs and ICAN Partner organisations and supporters can participate.

This virtual meeting is open to the public as well as the proposed members of the CPG

Register at

More detail and agenda at:

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Campaigners will remember that when we celebrated the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entering into force in January 2021, 90 days after the fiftieth country had signed and ratified, we looked forward to the first meeting to progress the TPNW, within a year. The Pandemic had already delayed the review of an older treaty, the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to August, and more recently the NPT has been scheduled for January 2022.

 ICAN image: Bill KiddMSP handing over letter from First Minister to HE Alexander Kmentt at the Vienna 2014 Conference

This has meant that first meeting of states parties (“1MSP” – not the acronym for Scottish Parliamentarians!) to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will take place from 22 – 24 March 2022 and The United Nations Secretary-General has now invited all the UN Member States to participate. (The delay could mean some extra ratifications are added before the meeting).

If UN member States are not able or willing to ratify or accede to the treaty in time they may observe the 1MSP. This is not a substitute for full commitment to the TPNW, but can show support for the it’s aims. Outline draft procedures mean that observers can show support through speaking, submitting papers and receiving official reports, but they cannot take part in decision-making nor can they challenge decisions made. The detail of how these opportunities can be managed will be determined at the 1MSP, in the agenda item that concerns the Rules of Procedure for the Treaty’s conferences.

Scotland cannot observe the TPNW 1MSP as a country, any more than sign it, until and unless we become an independent country and join the UN as a member state, and the UK Government is at this point, unlikely to send any delegation to attend, let alone one that included representatives of Scotland, the country where they deploy their nuclear weapons! However, as stipulated in Article of the TPNW, civil society has an essential role. Academics and medics, campaigners, survivors and parliamentarians all made a huge contribution to the drafting and adopting of the TPNW, and their voices will be heard at the 1MSP and beyond. The international parliamentarian friends of the TPNW include Scottish elected representatives.

The treaty sets out observeration: “States not party to this Treaty, as well as the relevant entities of the United Nations system, other relevant international organizations or institutions, regional organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and relevant non-governmental organizations, shall be invited to attend the meetings of States Parties and the review conferences as observers.”

ICAN, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on the treaty have been nominated as the NGO coordinator for the MSP, and are encouraging all TPNW supporting NGOs and Parliamentarians to take the time and make the effort to travel to Vienna to participate in the 1MSP. Maybe a Scottish representative could speak ‘in the room’ as part of civil society and there will certainly be the opportunity to meet with campaigners, diplomats, experts and survivors from around the world, and express Scotland’s support for the treaty and abhorrence of the bomb.

Please make sure that you ask your MSP if they will attend the 1MSP,and also consider if you and /or your group can get the Eurostar to beautiful Vienna, and join in this historic and exciting event. There will be a special ICAN briefing on 21st Septemer in the Scottish Parliament to fully explain the 1MSP and how Scotland can make itself heard – despite Westminster. Email if you are interested in attending.

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As campaigners call out the UK for its contempt for international law the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons goes from strength to strength.

Following the Westminster government’s announcement that it is increasing the cap on the number of nuclear warheads, CND is reporting the UK to the United Nations for breaking international law.. as confirmed by a specially commissioned legal opinion. We Scots must get behind this move by signing CND’s petition. The additional bombs will be heading for Scotland where we are already the unwilling host to the UK’s weapons of mass destruction

And now for something completely different. The flowering of the Nuclear Ban Treaty (TPNW) an astonishing story, given the opposition it has faced from huge vested interests and the nuclear-armed states. That opposition hoped and possibly expected that it would fall at an early stage – that the UN would not agree to a conference to negotiate it. At that stage, in 2016, the US wrote to all NATO members to urge them to have nothing to do with the process and applied huge pressure on its client states and on others to stay away. They failed. In December the UN agreed to hold in 2017 a conference to negotiate the Treaty, culminating in its adoption by overwhelming vote just over four years ago, on July 7th 2017.

Numbers are not everything but they do tell a powerful story. In 2017 122 states voted for the Treaty’s adoption. 86 states have so far signed it and 55 have gone on to the next stage -ratification, with more in the immediate pipeline. In December last year the UN General Assembly re-affirmed its support for the Treaty with 130 votes. The residue of the 193 UN states are the nuclear-armed states themselves, their client states and those on whom they have been able to apply intimidating pressure. And, of course, there was the global acknowledgement of ICAN’s part in making the Treaty a reality in the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

The overt arguments used by the Treaty’s opposers and critics are looking more and more threadbare as time goes on. They have claimed that the Treaty undermines the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but it now widely accepted that this in untrue. It is also claimed that the Treaty undermines the current “disarmament architecture” but the reality is that the structure is in a dangerous state of delapidation and needs the kind of radical underpinning that the Treaty provides.

The real reason for the opposition to the Treaty is that it threatens to wrest the agenda for disarmament from the nuclear-armed states, the think tanks and academic enclaves that collude with them, and the powerful vested interests in the manufacture and maintenance of the weapons, as well as from time-serving leaders who are adapted to the comfortable status quo. The Treaty gives a new voice to a majority world that would be critically impacted by any use of the weapons and has already experienced the devastation caused by their use and by nuclear testing.

In fact the snide dissing of the Treaty has backfired. People have examined the overt criticisms for themselves and have realised that they are but a cover for the fear of losing control. This is evident in significant shifts in responses from the client and umbrella states, such as Canada moving from something close to contempt to a recognition of the Treaty’s reality and purpose, and the trend within NATO states towards considering attending as observers the first Meeting of Sates Parties in January.

And so, on the 4th anniversary of the Treaty’s adoption we have much to celebrate. Here’s what Maggie Chapman MSP said:

“It’s 4 years since the TPNW was first adopted. Huge thanks to all campaigners from around the world who made this happen. A nuclear ban must be part of our future. The outdated imperialist & military industrial complex must be dismantled. For all of our, and our planet’s sakes.”

And so vital to stick to the simple basis of the Treaty – that nuclear weapons have the most horrific and inhumane consequences and that they are an imminent threat to humanity and the planet. As ICAN co-founder Tilman Ruff makes exactly that point:

One of the things I am most proud of with ICAN is bringing to the fore and giving the power to the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the survors of nuclear testing – it was they more than anything else that cut through and reminded the diplomats this was not a political or a nation state game. You could hear a pin drop when they spoke in the room.”

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Warm Welcome for ICAN NATO Report from Scottish CND

The Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has published its report: “Why NATO members should join the UN nuclear weapon ban”.

“Scottish CND warmly welcomes this new, thorough and comprehensive report which makes a wholly compelling case for NATO member states to engage with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). In doing so it dispels a number of myths and misrepresentations around the new Treaty.

In particular, it disposes of the claim that accession to the TPNW is incompatible with membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The current nuclear Strategic Doctrine is not intrinsic to the North Atlantic Treaty and there are no legal barriers to NATO states signing and ratifying the TPNW, though it would mean the end of any “nuclear sharing” and a renunciation by the state in question of any dependence on the nuclear arsenal of another state for their security. The report notes a new fluidity within NATO states in regard to recognition of the TPNW, reflected at party, parliamentary and popular level.

While the target audience of the report is NATO states (and mainly those which are not themselves nuclear-armed) the report has huge interest and relevance for a Scotland that is the involuntary host to the UK’s weapons of mass destruction. Scottish CND’s stance on NATO is unequivocal. NATO is an aggressive military alliance. As an independent Scotland its our place and key relationships in the wider world it will make absolutely no sense to align itself with a US leadership that remains committed to nuclear policies.

At the same time, we are but part of the global disarmament movement that has been given such new hope and momentum by the emergence of the TPNW. We need to recognise that the questions and the equations of compromise are different in different contexts.

It is heart-warming to see embedded in the report the following quotation from the Scottish First Minister:

An independent Scotland would be a keen signatory (to the TPNW) and I hope the day when we can do that is not far off.”

We share her hope and her emphasis on the primacy of the Treaty. Early accession to the TPNW, as well as marking an absolute rejection of nuclear weapons, will also be a powerful signal that we want to join the world in tackling together the huge and varied challenges that we face. And we should be preparing for that right away, especially by making and strengthening links with the global movement.

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Faslane Nuke Base Blockaded

woman locked to planter with the legend SAFE

This morning, 30th April, three women members of Extinction Rebellion Scotland have blockaded the main entrance to Faslane naval base, home to the UK’s nuclear weapon submarines, with three garden planters carrying the legend SAFE GREEN FUTURE.

XR Scotland said:

Nuclear weapons are an existential threat to the entire world. Stockpiling weapons with the ability to wipe out all life in order to appear tough does nothing to keep the UK or any other country safe. The ongoing environmental degradation caused by uranium mining and nuclear testing continues to be felt, particularly among pacific island nations that are also the most threatened by climate change. On top of that it Faslane has been polluting the Clyde with toxic chemicals. As the ongoing Climate and Ecological Emergency threatens people and the planet, we must come together to build a safe, more just future for all people.

ICAN partners in Scotland congratulate XR Scotland for this brilliant bit of work. Next week Scotland votes in a new parliament which must begin to build the platform for a Scotland free of weapons of mass destruction a major plank of which will be MSPs who express their unwavering commitment to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by signing the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge.

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As Scotland prepares to go to the polls, ICAN and 40+ organisations that have signed a letter to NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose to update the group’s defence sector policy to reflect that nuclear weapons are now prohibited. The call follows widespread condemnation of the UK government’s decision to increase the cap on the nuclear weapons in its stockpile by up to 40%.

ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn writes in The Herald, “Prosperity is not bought by nuclear bombs, nor by spending our money on weapons that are outlawed. NatWest has the chance to take concrete steps toward joining the Scottish people in building a responsible and sustainable future with investments in products and communities that build up our world, and avoiding weapons that risk ending it.”

It is not only Scotland that is in democratic deficit when it comes to nuclear weapons.Linda Pearson of Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland said “Recent polling shows that nearly two thirds of people in the UK want the government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, while 77% support a total ban on nuclear weapons globally. NatWest Group should better reflect the values of its customers, and that means ending its support for the nuclear weapon industry”.

Clients (of RBS, NatWest or Ulster Bank) now have a unique opportunity to call on NatWest Group to change its defence policy to comprehensively exclude nuclear weapons. See the draft letter,for clients to reach out to their bank about this issue.

Global Investment advisor V.E, says “With the entry into force of the TPNW, national-level laws prohibiting the financing of companies producing nuclear weapons could become more widespread. Some financial institutions who divest from nuclear weapons already refer to the TPNW as a basis of their decision, arguing that nuclear weapons are banned under the TPNW.“


ICAN partners in the UK are set to analyse and respond to the UK Government’s Integrated Review of defence and foreign policy, and it seems that instead of continuing with the reduction in the number of warheads planned for the upgraded system (apparently made possible by the increase in lethality through greater accuracy in targetting the number of warheads) that number now seems set to rise.

This represents a complete disregard for the majority global support for moving towards elimination of nuclear weapons through support for and implementation of the TPNW, which entered into force and is legally binding on 51 UN member states, with others in process of ratification and committed to support.

Thanks to David Cullen at Nuclear Information Service for bringing this new situation to our attention as the and to ICAN who are flagging it up internationally.

A simple and quick way for all to to comment – as discussed in last week’s ICAN in the UK meeting – is to follow up on the advocacy letter sent to the UK Government in January.

Our MPs must ask why the UK is set on breaching the NPT which it lays out as the basis for its nuclear strategy.

In relation to the particular situation for Scotland, where the warheads are stored and based, this UK arrogance highlights the democratic deficit over nuclear weapons, and our frustration in being misrepresented as a country in the transnational community. This is not an issue only for the SNP, with Greens taking an even stronger anti nuclear position than the party of government and many other elected representatives and candidates standing for election in May fully supportive of the TPNW being adopted universally, and nuclear weapons eliminated everywhere.

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So what does it mean if nukes are outlawed?

There were celebrations across the world on the 22 January, Entry Into Force Day for the new legislation at the UN. In this election year the impact of the Treaty has huge implications for the democratic deficit in Scotland over its enforced position as unwilling host to the UK’s nuclear weapons. But does law always provide the answers?

The story of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is a very fast moving one – we must be most concerned with what we are now enabled to do and what should happen next.

A simplistic view of ‘now illegal’ can be at best confusing if not misleading.

The central problem with nuclear weapons is not their legality or lack of it, but their effect – the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their use and the existential danger to this planet that arises from their existence.

The history of the TPNW’s development, its relationship to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and, to a lesser degree, the ICJ Advisory opinion on Nuclear Weapons (1996) and the impact of of the TPNW on international acceptance of the legitimacy of nuclear weapons (stigmatisation) is all part of the story concerning changes in the legal status of nuclear weapon, and these changes depend on an understanding of the reality of the effect of the weapons.

The prohibition of other weapons of mass destruction has effectively removed any status that they might have had as symbols of power, and until the long-overdue TPNW was adopted, only nuclear weapons were not subject to the universal revulsion that has applied to instruments of racist genocide. The legal status of a treaty enhances and increases the impact of the condemnation as we see in the example of landmines, no longer made or sold in the US despite their not joining the formal treaty that prohibits them. Prohibition is not, in itself, the cause of the condemnation of nuclear or any other weapons.

An unequivocal and comprehensive prohibition adopted and agreed by member states of the UN starts the process of delegitimising the very idea that there is any place for these weapons in any transnational negotiation

The existing definitions of what is acceptable violence between state parties – proportionality, distinguishing civilians etc – would all make any use of any of the nuclear weapons that presently exist illegal. This can be tested if they are used – of course, that is too late for any effective legal or practical remedy. Nuclear deterrence theory suggests that their very awfulness would prevent their use  – an unconvincing tautology  that seems to say that  nuclear weapons need to exist in order to prevent their use. (Similar distortions existed in the minds of those who questioned abolitionists about the legality of the slave trade,  recently re-examined in the sorry history of that trade and its devastating legacy of suffering).

There is no over-arching legal framework or force that can drag the nuclear-armed states to the table, telling them their weapons are ‘now illegal’ and that is why they must abandon them. The power that will make that change lies in the hands of those who refuse their governments a mandate to spend money, put people to work, or threaten life on earth in the way that a policy based on nuclear weapons demands. The TPNW allows UN member states to come together and desist and reject these policies and refuse to be compliant with their effects. It allows member states to work together to remediate environmental damage to test sites and support indigenous peoples whose lives and lands have been affected, and it publicly recognises that these countries have a shared view that nuclear weapons are an anathema, and the number of governments who share that view is growing. Within nuclear armed-states, responsible NGOs and many Parliamentarians agree with the provisions of the Treaty, and that number is also growing.

UN House Scotland is an ICAN Partner Organisation and also hosts the Co-ordinating group for ICAN in the UK (UNA UK, UNH Scotland, and the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy). ICAN is the originator and main civil society contributor to the origins, development and Entry Into Force of the TPNW  – that is what it was awarded the Nobel Prize for doing, despite persistent opposition and pressure from nuclear armed and nuclear complicit states. The legitimacy of the nuclear-armed states position has diminished at each hurdle overcome.

On the UK’s weapons in Scotland, as early as 2012 a Select Committee paper was published on the possibility of re-location of the UK’ nuclear weapons outside Scotland, where they are seen by the Parliament and the present Scottish Government as an affront and an anathema.  There has been much work done since, but even a (failed) independence referendum did not flush out a UK Government solution to the problem.

The impossibility of relocating the UKs nuclear weapons system  in Scotland is more than adequately covered in a number of publications by the late John Ainslie (Nowhere to Go) and David Cullen at NIS (Trouble Ahead), both referenced in the UK Chapter of Reaching Critical Will’s 2020 update on modernisation programmes around the world, Assuring Destruction Forever. The Scottish political question is a separate, albeit related, issue, when a parliamentary election seems likely to return a Government and a First Minister that have publicly declared an intention of joining the TPNW.

While we need to ensure that we understand the limitations of the legal implications  we can  afford the Treaty its importance in driving forward changes in what is considered  acceptable in the global community. That is only in part dependent on the legal framework and it can re-interpret or alter it. There is a fluid balance that can arise through the UN process, that has notably been used to effect by individuals like Alexander Kmentt and Tariq Rauf (see IAEA, SIPRI, NPT, METO) and by the efforts of UN consultative organisations like the IRCRC, Bulletin Atomic Scientists, and Reaching Critical Will to name a few.

The UN process and negotiation of the TPNW’s rules of procedure  can draw from customary international law and also on well-regarded research to make lasting changes or facilitate agreements and eventually shape interpretations and accepted understanding of IHL through negotiations based in the preamble to the Treaty.

A briefing on the TPNW and the UK (nuclear-armed) Government is available on this website in the form of The official 4 page report from Dr Rebecca Johnson, founding chair of ICAN and NGO participant at every NPT Review Conference since the 1980’s. (This document was prepared as a brief introduction to the findings in a full-length report by Dr Johnson for Nuclear Information Service and the Nuclear Education Trust and funded by the JRCT which is due for publication shortly).

Two recent articles published by TODA are essential reading on where we are with the TPNW. One is by Ambassador Alexander Kmentt, the Austrian diplomat and former Arms Control person of the year who initiated the Humanitarian Pledge that was the catalyst for UN to set up the Open Ended Working Group that started the TPNW process at the UN, and who has been appointed by the UN as President to oversee the First meeting Of State Parties to the TPNW later this year

The other is by Professor Tilman Ruff, the first founding chair of ICAN and co-president of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War who is an advisor to The Red Cross and the World Health Organisation.

Despite the credentials, both articles are very accessible and inspiring to read and to be informed by, and indicate that academic integrity does not discount ethical consideration.

In particular, Tilman exhorts us requires us to ‘use the treaty well’ and  offers a positive and bold approach. Not for him is there any offer of support for the inevitable disparaging efforts to belittle the importance or workability of the TPNW that have marked every stage of its progress. His outline of the next series of steps will require academic rigour and activist vigour. ICAN is already working with diplomatic, academic and campaigning partners to achieve this and information about all the Scottish or other UK ICAN Partners and the international campaign is reported at the Scottish ICAN Roundtable (First Tuesday afternoon, every fourth month, next one is April 6th)

In addition to acting as an administrative base for ICAN partners in the UK, UN House Scotland’s work in increasing the understanding and promotion of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals allows a holistic understanding of the TPNW, since none of the goals  are ultimately compatible with the  continued existence of nuclear weapons. UN House Scotland also provides a base for, and works in partnership with Secure Scotland, to challenge  language and practices that embed racist and patriarchal prejudices in everyday life and to encourage the development and promotion of better ways to ensure that progressive development of a Scotland that looks after all its citizens and incomers and contribute to the global security and peace.  Both Secure Scotland and UN House Scotland  welcome and appreciate the importance of the ever growing and changing application of International Humanitarian Law in the nuclear Weapons debate, and see the TPNW’s place in a much wider and inter connected context that the purely legal framework.

Citations and references available on request.

Janet Fenton Feb 21

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