Coulport Disarmament camp :Brian & Angie imprisoned till 3rd August

As part of the action to highlight the Global Ban Treaty and Scotland’s position as a reluctant host of nuclear weapons there is currently a disarmament camp at Coulport. A number of people have been arrested, and two long term campaigners are in prison till 3rd August. Read about how that happened, and how you can support them.

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Coulport Disarmament camp :Brian & Angie imprisoned till 3rd August

Defence Secretary thinks the Treaty should not apply to the UK

‘We do not support this treaty,
we do not think it should apply to the UK,
and if it is voted on we will not accept it’

So said Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, on the Global Ban treaty in Parliament yesterday.

Posted in News | Comments Off on Defence Secretary thinks the Treaty should not apply to the UK

Not quite the last word, but . . .

Not quite the last word but a splendid summary of of the significance of the UN nuclear weapon treaty. Author Ray Acheson was a strong collaborator friend of the late John Ainslie.

The new reality
Ray Acheson
8 July 2017

Yesterday, we banned nuclear weapons.

It’s still hard to believe this is the case. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet, the enormity of what just happened. Even as survivors, activists, politicians, and diplomats celebrated in New York and around the world, many expressed amazement that we actually pulled it off.

It was a long campaign. Activism against nuclear weapons has been fierce and determined for over seventy years. But it wasn’t until recent years, when a few courageous diplomats in partnership with a group of civil society actors working as part of or in collaboration with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons decided to take a leap into the unknown, that we managed to finally develop international law condemning and prohibiting these last weapons of mass destruction.

Working together, we foregrounded our actions in resistance and hope. Resistance to the pressure from nuclear-armed and nuclear-alliance states. Resistance to attitudes of cynicism and of defeatism. Resistance to staying the course, being placated, being told to be patient, that the “important” countries will handle this matter. Hope that change is possible. Hope that by working together we can achieve something that can disrupt some of the most powerful, heavily militarised structures and doctrines in the entire world. Hope that a shared sense of humanity could prevail against all odds. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney quoted Seamus Heaney in his remarks on Friday, that “hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is a good worth working for.”

There were incredible obstacles in our way. We were challenging power. In response, many forces of that power were unleashed upon us—politically, and sometimes personally. In her closing statement, Ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko of South Africa noted the “an incredible amount of pressure” on her continent not to participate. We saw this pressure placed on many countries in October before the General Assembly voted to begin these negotiations. We saw it even when states were organising conferences to examine the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons.

The key was not to allow these obstacles to be insurmountable. This is a choice. One can either give up or keep fighting. No obstacle is actually too big; it’s just a matter of figuring out how to go under, around, over, or through it. On Friday, 7 July, 122 governments voted yes for humanity. They took courage in their collective endeavor, and in the support of civil society filling the gallery behind them beyond capacity. They also took courage in their “moral duty,” as Ambassador Mxakato-Diseko put it, noting that “to have voted no would have been a slap in the face to the victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.”

Banning nuclear weapons was not an insurmountable challenge, just as achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons is not insurmountable. The day after the adoption of this treaty we are already seeing the flood of commentary on how useless what we did is. How this treaty will change nothing; how we’ve only created divisions; how we haven’t eliminated a single nuclear weapon. It will continue to be an epic mansplaining session until the trolls, who have invested their academic or political careers in reinforcing the status quo by explaining ad nauseam that this is how things are and that things can never change, get bored and move on. (Proving them wrong is apparently not sufficient—they said we could never ban nuclear weapons and now that we have, the issue its utility, not its possibility.)

It’s okay, they can have their space to complain and critique—they have always taken up this space, and until we do more to disrupt the structures that keep them safely ensconced in that space, they will continue to do so. In the meantime, the feminists, the queers, the people of colour, the survivors, the determined diplomats, the passionate politicians, the thoughtful academics, the fierce activists—the rebels and the brave—will do what we can to keep making change. We do so to honour the people who have suffered from nuclear violence. We do so to ensure that respect, dignity, courage, and love are the dominant traits of humanity, rather than our capacity for self-destruction, selfishness, or fear.

There is time for celebration but not self-congratulation. There is only time for more work. Just like the critics warned, this treaty has not magically eliminated nuclear weapons over night. We always knew it would be harder than that. But as atomic bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow said in her remarkable closing statement to the conference on Friday, “This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.” This treaty was conceived of as a tool that could help change the politics and economics of nuclear weapons as a means of facilitating disarmament. The text that we adopted on Friday is well suited to this task. It provides a solid foundation to change policies and practices, as well as to shift the thinking and discourse on nuclear weapons even further than the process to ban them already has.

We have not, as a species, been able to figure out how to solve everything at once. We struggle sometimes to even keep things on the right track, tenuous and fragile as that track can sometimes be. But we can work together to do extraordinary things—and we should do it more often. It just takes courage. It sounds over simplified, but it’s really not. We’re taught that this is a naive approach to the world—it’s engrained in us as we become adults that idealism and activism are youthful pursuits. They are not. They are the pursuits of the brave, of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs.

This is a treaty made by people. By diplomats who got inspired by an idea and went home to change their government’s positions. By activists writing, thinking, and convening, bringing together governments and civil society groups to figure out how to make things happen. By survivors who give their testimony despite the personal trauma of reliving their experiences. By direct action crews who get arrested for breaking into nuclear weapon facilities or blockading nuclear transports or military bases. By campaigners who mobilise nationally to raise awareness and pressure their governments. By politicians who truly represent the will of their people and speak the truth in parliaments. By academics who write the theory or record the process.

This treaty is an amazing feat of collective action by people who came together to do something that had not been tried before. Like anything created by people, it has its imperfections. But it’s a good start on the road to abolition, and it gives a glimpse of what is possible in this world. That, all on its own, has meaning.

Copyright © 2017 Reaching Critical Will, All rights reserved.

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Not quite the last word, but . . .

We Banned the Bomb

Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Adopted at UN

After a decade-long effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and 72 years after their invention, today states at the United Nations formally adopted a treaty which categorically prohibits nuclear weapons. Scottish CND has been a partner in ICAN since 2007.

Until now, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction without a ban treaty, despite the widespread and catastrophic humanitarian consequences across the world of their intentional or accidental detonation. Biological weapons were banned in 1972 and chemical weapons in 1992.

ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said:

We hope that today marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age. It is beyond question that nuclear weapons violate the laws of war and pose a clear danger to global security. It is time for leaders around the world to match their values and words with action by signing and ratifying this treaty as a first step towards eliminating nuclear weapons.”

Bill Kidd MSP, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Non- Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, added:

All of the UK’s nuclear arsenal is based in Scotland, against the wishes of the Scottish Government the votes of the Scottish Parliament and the expressed will of the Scottish people. As a member of the Scottish Parliament, along with colleagues from Scottish Civil Society I am here in New York to speak up on behalf of our nation. The Prohibition Treaty will present a significant opportunity to present nuclear disarmament as a serious option on the table at international negotiations.”

The “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” was adopted today and will open for signature by states at the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2017. Civil society organizations, including those from the wider peace movement in Scotland, have participated in the negotiations as well as more than 140 member states of the UN.

This treaty came about because  the majority of the world no longer accepts nuclear weapons as legitimate tools of war. The repeated objection and boycott of the negotiations by the UK and other nuclear-weapon states demonstrates that the treaty will impact on their behavior and stature and in changing the international view of nuclear weapons will change policies and behaviors, even in states that will not yet sign the treaty.

Scotland’s opposition to the weapons in our country is in line with the global norm,” said Janet Fenton from the Scottish civil society delegation, “and now we have a great tool that can help us in our work to get rid of them.”

The treaty identifies obligations to the victims of nuclear weapons use and testing and to remediate the environmental damage caused.”

From the beginning, the effort to ban nuclear weapons has had the support of international humanitarian, environmental and disarmament organisations in more than 100 states including Scotland. Around the world, they signed petitions, joined protests, contacted representatives, and pressured governments. This year, Scottish CND established a Ban Treaty Working Group to prepare for New York.

ENDS ENDS

The website which documents and reports on activities and negotiations at the UN is http://www.nuclearban.scot

Trident Ploughshares are holding a disarmament camp at Coulport to respond to the treaty’s adoption.

http://www.tridentploughshares.org

More information about ICAN can be found on www.icanw.org.

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on We Banned the Bomb

Watch them Ban the Bomb, Live!

Live feed for watching the  announcement of the Banning of the Bomb. Click on this post to reveal hyperlink.

 

 

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Watch them Ban the Bomb, Live!

A Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Is Almost There

It’s historic. The formal schedule of the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty Conference for this Friday coming (7th July) is the adoption of the treaty itself. Over 130 UN states are participating. It’s the very best news in nuclear disarmament in decades.
The Conference, which has the support of the overwhelming majority of the UN member states, has arisen from the growing awareness worldwide of the catastrophic humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons, as underscored by declarations from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent that even a regional exchange of nuclear weapons would mean a disaster beyond any human remedy. The Treaty will follow the pattern of the treaties banning other weapons, such as landmines and chemical weapons. Like these it will not require ratification by all UN states to be effective.
At every step, from the series of international conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons up to the most recent revisions on Friday (30th June), the commitment to prohibition has been strengthened. These revisions include a clearer link to current international humanitarian law on weapons of mass destruction and, critically, prohibit the threat to use them, thus making the concept of deterrence itself illegitimate. Nuclear-armed states may join the Treaty by first eliminating their arsenals or, alternatively, on the basis of a plan, for a clearly timetabled and certified elimination.
Even in these last few days, many diplomats and civil society representatives are keen to still further strengthen the requirements of the Treaty. One aim is to provide more clarity for situations in which non-nuclear states can maintain in a military alliance with a nuclear-armed state and another is the hope that Treaty will be clearer about prohibiting financing nuclear weapon activity.
Once the Treaty is adopted it will open to signing and ratification by 40 or 50 states.(dependent on the final wording) to become a legally binding UN Treaty to stigmatise, and prohibit nuclear weapons leading to their elimination
There is an obvious question from the sceptical. The nine nuclear-armed states are not participating and show no sign at present of ratifying any ban treaty so what effect can it possibly have on the huge stockpiles and threatening postures of these states?
There will be practical difficulties for the nuclear-armed states, as they well understand. Just before the October 2016 vote at the UN last year which established the Conference the vote at the US, in leaked letter, warned its NATO allies not to support the process since a completed treaty would impose significant restraints on the ability of the US to maintain their global nuclear posture, citing difficulties such as the transit of weapons and materials through the borders, airways or sea lanes of ratifying states. Further, the Treaty will mean a critical change in the status of nuclear weapons, as similar treaties have done so successfully for chemical weapons and land mines.Indeed, the ten-year long process to this stage has already shifted the moral framework. In the rarified air of the nuclear weapon states such as the UK, the long established nuclear weapon discourse has been largely limited to issues of military strategy, costs and employment. Increasingly, the focus is now moving to the simple issue of what nukes are and what they do. Who, in any civilised and humane frame nowadays, would entertain discussion of the strategic value of landmines or chemical weapons? The focus would be solely on the horrific and continuing death and damage. Similarly, the perspective on nukes is undergoing a significant shift to the straightforward issue of the humanitarian consequences.
The Treaty will confirm this. Closely connected to that is the understanding that the dominant threats to human survival are catastrophic climate change and nuclear war, each having the potential to precipitate the other, one by provoking dangerous conflict through mass migrations and fierce resource competition, and the other by the drastic climactic effects of even a regional nuclear exchange. Both threats are pointed at everyone on the planet.
Then there is the issue of how the treaty can underscore the democratic deficit on nuclear weapons. One nuclear ‘umbrella’ state, the Netherlands, has been forced to be ‘in the room’ by its own political process, (the people voted to ensure that the Government would participate in the negotiations) despite its own Government’s position. The Netherlands civil society team are holding them to account and challenging the legality and acceptability of NATO’s nuclear strategy in an open forum.
Due to the UK’s refusal to take part Scots are unrepresented and misrepresented at diplomatic level. There has been however a strong Scottish accredited civil society presence which is playing its part in informing and persuading diplomats. This team has now been joined by Bill Kidd MSP, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament. With the team is Janet Fenton, Vice-Chair of Scottish CND and a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, who said:
The nuclear-armed states have no argument with which to object to the Treaty and their strategy appears to be to pretend that it isn’t happening, Given the almost complete absence of this good news story from UK conventional media, the UK Government might be forgiven for imagining that everyone accepts that threatening to incinerate people indiscriminately is a reasonable and legal foreign policy. That’s so irrational , it can’t be allowed to happen. Along with many others I will be at Coulport and Faslane for a week of direct action against the nuclear weapons there from the 8th July.”
Posted in News | Comments Off on A Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Is Almost There

Janet Fenton’s Update on 3rd July

The end of the week our activities were focused on continuing to lobby diplomats to strengthen key points and prohibitions, and do what we can to get the message to our home countries through conventional and social media , articulating the process and stressing the significance of what is happening here.

In addition to our update on the actual negotiations given elsewhere, I’d like to tell you a little about the experiences we are having.

There have been numerous interesting and informative side events, and whether on the panel – I took part in the one refuting the traditional arguments, along with Alice Slater, Rob Green, and others – or listening and learning from Scientists for Global responsibility as they paint the terrifying true picture of the impact on the climate of any use of nuclear weapons, civil society and diplomats are experiencing intense and robust lessons in the urgent need for the Treaty and the rich variety of skills and knowledge that are brought to that task. We watched a new film, The Nuns the Priests and the Bombs that not only told the story of faith based direct action, but explained a lot about the US legal system and how it continues to uphold the status quo.

One thing that has been a strange experience is that during these last few days, while the diplomats are consulting in small groups behind closed doors, in the room that had been allocated to civil society, they have swapped rooms with us so we are in the big room, Conference Room One, for side events and to meet and talk. It’s a bit weird and we are somewhat discombobulated in the big room with all the mics and the comfy chairs. We decided on a photocall, and as we stood, (panoramic shot taking ages) someone started to sing, Peace Salaam Shalom, and gradually everyone joined in – in Conference Room 1 at the UN, who’d have thought it!

My quote of the week from a side event is “Building the capacity for violence will never meet the world’s deep longing for peace. “

Posted in News | Comments Off on Janet Fenton’s Update on 3rd July

A Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Is Almost There

A Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Is Almost There

Update as final week begins

It’s historic. The formal schedule of the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty Conference for this Friday coming (7th July) is the adoption of the treaty itself. Over 130 UN states are participating. It’s the very best news in nuclear disarmament in decades.

The Conference, which has the support of the overwhelming majority of the UN member states, has arisen from the growing awareness worldwide of the catastrophic humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons, as underscored by declarations from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent that even a regional exchange of nuclear weapons would mean a disaster beyond any human remedy. The Treaty will follow the pattern of the treaties banning other weapons, such as landmines and chemical weapons. Like these it will not require ratification by all UN states to be effective.

At every step, from the series of international conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons up to the most recent revisions on Friday (30th June), the commitment to prohibition has been strengthened. These revisions include a clearer link to current international humanitarian law on weapons of mass destruction and, critically, prohibit the threat to use them, thus making the concept of deterrence itself illegitimate. Nuclear-armed states may join the Treaty by first eliminating their arsenals or, alternatively, on the basis of a plan, for a clearly timetabled and certified elimination.

Even in these last few days, many diplomats and civil society representatives are keen to still further strengthen the requirements of the Treaty. One aim is to provide more clarity for situations in which non-nuclear states can maintain in a military alliance with a nuclear-armed state and another is the hope that Treaty will be clearer about prohibiting financing nuclear weapon activity.

Once the Treaty is adopted it will open to signing and ratification by 40 or 50 states.(dependent on the final wording) to become a legally binding UN Treaty to stigmatise, and prohibit nuclear weapons leading to their elimination

There is an obvious question from the sceptical. The nine nuclear-armed states are not participating and show no sign at present of ratifying any ban treaty so what effect can it possibly have on the huge stockpiles and threatening postures of these states?

There will be practical difficulties for the nuclear-armed states, as they well understand. Just before the October 2016 vote at the UN last year which established the Conference the vote at the US, in leaked letter, warned its NATO allies not to support the process since a completed treaty would impose significant restraints on the ability of the US to maintain their global nuclear posture, citing difficulties such as the transit of weapons and materials through the borders, airways or sea lanes of ratifying states. Further, the Treaty will mean a critical change in the status of nuclear weapons, as similar treaties have done so successfully for chemical weapons and land mines. Indeed, the ten-year long process to this stage has already shifted the moral framework. In the rarified air of the nuclear weapon states such as the UK, the long established nuclear weapon discourse has been largely limited to issues of military strategy, costs and employment. Increasingly, the focus is now moving to the simple issue of what nukes are and what they do. Who, in any civilised and humane frame nowadays, would entertain discussion of the strategic value of landmines or chemical weapons? The focus would be solely on the horrific and continuing death and damage. Similarly, the perspective on nukes is undergoing a significant shift to the straightforward issue of the humanitarian consequences.

The Treaty will confirm this. Closely connected to that is the understanding that the dominant threats to human survival are catastrophic climate change and nuclear war, each having the potential to precipitate the other, one by provoking dangerous conflict through mass migrations and fierce resource competition, and the other by the drastic climactic effects of even a regional nuclear exchange. Both threats are pointed at everyone on the planet.

Then there is the issue of how the treaty can underscore the democratic deficit on nuclear weapons. One nuclear ‘umbrella’ state, the Netherlands, has been forced to be ‘in the room’ by its own political process, (the people voted to ensure that the Government would participate in the negotiations) despite its own Government’s position. The Netherlands civil society team are holding them to account and challenging the legality and acceptability of NATO’s nuclear strategy in an open forum.

Due to the UK’s refusal to take part Scots are unrepresented and misrepresented at diplomatic level. There has been however a strong Scottish accredited civil society presence which is playing its part in informing and persuading diplomats. This team has now been joined by Bill Kidd MSP, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament. With the team is Janet Fenton, Vice-Chair of Scottish CND and a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, who said:

The nuclear-armed states have no argument with which to object to the Treaty and their strategy appears to be to pretend that it isn’t happening, Given the almost complete absence of this good news story from UK conventional media, the UK Government might be forgiven for imagining that everyone accepts that threatening to incinerate people indiscriminately is a reasonable and legal foreign policy. That’s so irrational , it can’t be allowed to happen. Along with many others I will be at Coulport and Faslane for a week of direct action against the nuclear weapons there from the 8th July.”

Nucleaban.scot

icanw.org

David Mackenzie

Scottish Scrap Trident Coalition

07876593016

Posted in News | Comments Off on A Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Is Almost There

Why should military preparations be in the treaty?

Threat: Ban military preparations to use nuclear weapons

The discussions are now focussed on the second draft of the proposed treaty to ban nuclear weapons ongoing in New York, and it is going well. There are still some additional improvements that we hope can be made, and one is to address ‘threat of use.’ Many states at the negotiations have asked about incorporating a prohibition on the threat of use of nuclear weapons. One way to get this is to have an explicit prohibition on military preparations for use.

Military preparations could include refueling aircraft, exercises in preparation for use or targeting and other fighting arrangements. These are examples of activities but are not he only ones. Any concrete or tangible activity could be included, and this has been done with the chemical weapons convention, for example. This would remove or reduce the facilities needed for general military planning and training. It would also undermine or delegitimise the nuclear weapons secret structures, and lead to a more communicative approach with more democratic accountability for military planning decisions and improved open collective approaches to military alliances. This allows a shared public understanding of how these work and what they are. It is important to remember that NATO may have a nuclear strike policy, but that policy is not entrenched in the treaty itself, and could be changed. Modifications to the planes for example, would prevent future nuclear weapons capabilities. If the ban treaty includes the prohibition on military planning, that would accelerate the change in view of nuclear weapons away from ideas of stability to an understanding that nuclear weapons are instruments of terror and instability, and this will, at last, undermine and discredit the entrenched but psychotic and dangerous concept of deterrence.

The democratic benefit of transparent and accountable practice can, at last, provide the possibility of exploring ideological differences without risking the survival of our species

Janet Fenton, attending the UN nuclear ban treaty discussions

Posted in News | Comments Off on Why should military preparations be in the treaty?

Report 28 June & Photoshoot

Continuing into this week of the negotiations, everyone is very aware of the deadline ahead, and it seems that the diplomats share civil society’s ardent desire to create an effective and unambiguous treaty by the end of the negotiating period.

The closed sessions continued today, allowing for questioning and plain speaking. Side events and work done outside the room was also looking forward in some respects, addressing how the finished treaty might be shared and what our collective and separate next steps might be. This included pushing forward on the ideas from our Scottish panel and extending them to explore ways that nuclear armed states and those that see themselves as dependent can share experience and tactics to build capacity, so a group is becoming established to do that. It was seen as essential to discredit any suggestion that the treaty is some sort of protest about who has the power instead of an expression of how inherently unacceptable nuclear weapons have been proved to be.

We hope that there has been sufficient mention from member states to ensure adding to the treaty’s main prohibitions threat of use, financing, military alliance planning, and transit. Fixing health and environmental impacts must be undertaken without discrimination, a binding responsibility that gives an entitlement to assistance from all states. If, as we hope, threat is one of the prohibitions we need to be ready to move forward in public education that the dogma of so-called nuclear deterrence has at last been discredited as a legitimate activity in any international relations that comply with the principles of United Nations.

We also had some fun outside the UN with some masks and our own, non-lethal and non-radioactive ‘bomb’ as you can see in our action pictures. In addition to those, and some great new videos – Beatrice explaining the main elements of the new draft version of the treaty, and the International Red Cross and Red Resent video you can find on Facebook. Key arguments were strongly communicated in the conference by diplomats as well as some great inputs from the NGOs. (Most of these cannot be attributed or reported from the closed door sessions.)

At the close of today’s session, Dr Rebecca Johnson spoke to diplomats about four outstanding requirements.

  • First, a secretariat to promote the Treaty’s purposes and implementation would be able to engage with other bodies and also with states that are seeking to join.
  • Secondly, the the treaty should be of unlimited duration and not permit withdrawal. Withdrawing from this Treaty would threaten international peace, security, human rights and our globally shared environment. At the very least if there must be withdrawal arrangement they should require a minimum of 24 months notice to give time to examine reasons and ensure that withdrawal did not suggest a security value in nuclear weapons or threaten global peace and security, as underpinned in the UN Charter.
  • Thirdly, to make it as inviting and credible as possible for states to join, implement and comply with the treaty,whether they choose to join and then implement, or to implement and then join in all cases to ensure necessary international verification and accountability. The text must avoid creating confusion or loopholes.
  • And lastly, while welcoming support and reinforcement of the NPT’s core objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, it is wrongful and also unnecessary for this Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty to mention any form of civilian energy production anywhere in its text. Referring to NPT “rights” is not only legally unnecessary, as the two treaties will exist alongside each other, but potentially dangerous.

Janet Fenton

Posted in News | Comments Off on Report 28 June & Photoshoot