The second day of negotiations has begun, and the Scottish delegation has been busy both in and out of the conference room.
The day started with our daily ICAN meeting, which noted that attendees were generally pleased with the discussions of the previous day, and also mentioned the positive discussions that were had between delegates, wishing to strengthen the treaty where possible. 103 states participated in the negotiations which is an improvement on the number at the beginning of the previous discussions, and it is expected that others could join or participate in due course. Despite remarking positively on the negotiations, it was still agreed that there could be a greater emphasis on Human Rights law as well as Environmental Law with the draft treaty moving forward.
Not long into the morning session, where delegates continued their discussions on the Preamble, our colleagues at the World Council of Churches received confirmation of a meeting from the UK Mission office across from the United Nations. Keen to discuss the UK’s position on the ban treaty as well as the UK’s notable absence at the negotiations, Dagmar, Flavia, Janet and I joined, along with Dave from UK CND and Tim, from Quakers UK, while Andy remained in the negotiations room to take attendance of participating countries and to take notes on the continued proceedings.
While Chatham House Rule applies for the discussions had and we were aware there would be little room for manoeuvre, the group were able to discuss their differing views on the relationship between the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty to the Nuclear Ban Treaty, as well as the perceived security that nuclear weapons hold.
Journeying back to the United Nations in time for lunch, we attended the Side Event by Pugwash Conferences, where a panel discussed the challenges of being a host state to other nuclear weapon states. This was a particularly pertinent and interesting discussion for our Scottish team, because whilst Scotland’s position of hosting nuclear weapons for the UK is quite unique, it holds some resemblance to that of host states who hold these weapons for nuclear states, but have little control. Whilst there was discussion on all of the host states in this situation, there was a greater discussion on the Netherlands position, as they are the only host state attending these negotiations. It was noted that whilst they made strong opening remarks yesterday about their allegiance and priorities to NATO as a pre-requisite of signing a treaty, their attendance here should still be commended, which shows an honesty and willingness on their part, to make progress.
Moving to the afternoon negotiations shortly after, the floor was opened to a variety of civil society representatives who gave their thoughts on the preamble. They highlighted a variety of issues, including the obligation to assist victims of nuclear weapons, the need for recognition of the disproportionate effects on indigenous people and the reminder of the long-lasting humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.
The official book launch of ‘Disarming the Nuclear Argument: the truth about nuclear weapons’, written by Tim Wallis was the next item on the agenda for the Scottish team. Janet, along with Dave Webb, Chair of UK CND, and Dr Rebecca Johnson, of the Acronym Institute, joined Tim in an open discussion session where they spoke about the arguments and importantly the rebuttals that can come from discussions with opponents to the ban treaty. A free copy of this book will be offered to all 130 delegates at the negotiations where it is hoped that this will give delegates greater information and answers to the common questions and queries surrounding disarmament. In attendance and contributing to the discussion were nuns Sister Ardath Platte and Sister Carol Gilbert, who have both served prison sentences for poring their own blood on a nuclear warhead.
Our Scottish team split up for the last part of our day, as Flavia, Dagmar and I attended the ‘Student and Young People’ Sign Making event for the march tomorrow, whilst Andy and Janet took part in the Sign Making event for the ‘slightly older’ generation. Momentum is certainly building for the march tomorrow, with it being widely discussed by many and we are hoping this is the case for the partner marches that will be going on throughout the world also. We hope that there will be a great turnout for the events worldwide, and that we are able to spread the word- ‘Ban the Bomb’!
Amy Christison & the rest of the Scottish Team