Day 6 began with our usual morning ICAN briefing, where we were presented with the exciting news that 125 Governments have participated in the negotiations so far- a very promising figure. It was agreed that in the negotiations of Articles 2-5 yesterday, there were a number of effective proposed amendments, calling for safeguarding measures to ably deal with future concerns, as well as pathways to attract nuclear states to the treaty. South Africa circulated a text to incorporate these ideas, which, although it was by no means perfect, was certainly a basis to build on in due course.
In the morning session of negotiations, we saw the Delegate from New Zealand take over the role of Chair, as Vice President of the Negotiations, and discussions began with the concluding remarks on the Article 6. Notably, Egypt, with support from other states, called an emphasis on States who used or tested weapons to bear the primary responsibility in victim assistance, and other countries to in turn, to provide assistance where possible. Moving to the next cluster of Article 7-10, discussions included the need for mandatory reporting, which would include regular feedback as to how countries were responding to the obligations of the treaty, and it was also remarked by Austria that this would provide a means of best practise sharing. During these negotiations, once again, Andy participated in external lobbying activities, making calls to countries who are yet to participate in negotiations.
The lunch-time side event today, which was attended by our full team, was entitled, ‘Prohibiting nuclear weapons: democratic strategies to take forward and implement the nuclear ban in nuclear-armed and umbrella states’. The event was organised and chaired by Dr Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director of Acronym, who also called upon Janet to highlight Scotland’s position in light of the panellist’s discussions. Most notably for our Scottish delegation, the panel line-up included Caroline Lucas, Co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. Although acting in a civil society capacity, Caroline provided a sense of optimism in her Parliamentary presence, which given the significant absence of an official UK delegate in the negotiations, was particularly important. It was both refreshing and enlightening to hear her comment on the illogical and unjustifiable arguments from the opposition, and the real hope for civil society to put pressure on the Government, given we have both evidence and public opinion on our side. This latter remark was in reference to the recent finding by YouGov that 75% of the population believed the UK should be attending the negotiations. Joining Caroline in the discussions were current and former MPs from the Netherlands and Germany. The Netherlands remarked that the Dutch delegation was only attending the negotiations because of the pressure put onto Parliamentarians from NGO and civil society groups, and that strength and progress comes from collaboration between these groups and Parliamentarians, a sentiment which was echoed by both Caroline and the German representative. Furthermore, Caroline, along with the other panellists, spoke of the importance in putting motions and questions forward to Government, irrespective of the likelihood of rejection, as it will help to keep the topic in Parliament discussion, as well as potentially increasing media coverage, which at present is next to nothing.
Planning is underway for our own Scottish Side Event also, which takes place on Thursday. Each member of our Scottish team will be taking an active role, as we aim to better educate both civil society groups from other countries, as well as hopefully delegates, of the situation in Scotland and the potential power we can have as a reluctant host state. We are currently putting together leaflets to market the event, compiling our videos of support from Scottish Parliamentary Figures, and gathering together our talking points and specialised topics which, we hope that altogether, should make for an informative and fruitful event.
The afternoon session of negotiations meant a further continuation of discussions regarding Article 7-10. Much discussion circulated around the nature of follow-up meetings, the frequency of these and the necessity in holding them. In line with earlier suggestions from ICAN to strengthen the role of civil societies in future meetings, amendments were proposed to ensure the treaty stated that civil society groups ‘should’ attend future meetings as opposed to the current draft writing which states civil society ‘might’ be invited to attend.
Flavia. Janet and I are due to attend the Youth Reception for Nuclear Abolition tonight. After having attended the Youth Collaboration event yesterday, it will be interesting to attend this event in order to further discussions as to what we, as a global network, can achieve in our respective countries. We are keen to gather ideas, advice and suggestions from all other global groups, so that when we return back to Scotland, we are in an able position to discuss our experiences, and competently collaborate with others which in turn, should allow us to increase youth engagement on this hugely important topic.
Amy Christison & the rest of the Scottish Team