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.”