DBOTB 2019 REPORT

Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland intends to launch the 2019 edition of our guide to nuclear weapons divestment in Scotland next week. The report details the nuclear weapons investments of Scottish banks, Scottish local authority pension funds, Scottish universities and the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme, and features a step-by-step guide for people who want to get involved in the divestment campaign. Some of the changes in this year’s edition of the guide include:

  • the research covers 30 nuclear weapons companies compared to 22 last year;
  • detailed information on the investment policies of Scottish local authority pension funds has been added;
  • 10 Scottish universities are covered compared to last year’s five.

Our website https://nukedivestmentscotland.org/ is currently down while we update it with the new content, we will let you know when it is live again. We will also update you with details of the exact launch date and send you the press release and links to media coverage when we have these.We will be tweeting information from the guide using the hashtag #NaeCash4Nukes so please share widely if you can.
Thanks for any help you can give with this. 

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Kazakhstan anti-nuclear campaigner visits Scottish Parliament

Yesterday Karipbek Kuyukov from Kazakhstan visited the Scottish Parliament where he met and addressed MSPs, parliamentary researchers and civil society members of the parliament’s Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament. The visit was timed to coincide with Kazakhstan’s ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The transcontinental Republic of Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, historically populated by nomadic peoples, and formerly part of the USSR where hundred of nuclear weapons tests were conducted between 1949 and 1989 with devastating humanitarian biological and ecological consequences, with two million people damaged by radiation effects. During that period, Karipbek Kuyukov was born without arms. He has since became a very highly regarded painter and has exhibited around the world, utilising his talent and his unique perspective to illustrate and warn of nuclear danger. A number of his striking paintings were exhibited at the meeting.

In conversation with Janet Fenton, liaison in Scotland for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), about the potential for global disarmament, Karipbek said:

If we work together we can reach this goal. I think possessing nuclear weapons is a huge attraction for leaders of different countries as we can see from the example of North Korea. But it is ordinary people that are suffering. Just last December I talked at the UN and called on the leaders of the countries who have not yet joined the global ban treaty to do it.”

Janet also addressed the meeting and brought the gathering up to date with the progress of the ban treaty, the TPNW. 25 states have now ratified the Treaty, half the number required for entry into force as a legal instrument. A number of others are just about to take the step of ratification. In the Scottish Parliament all the SNP and Green members, and a number of labour members, have signed the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge in support of the Treaty.

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How Scots can align with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted at the UN in July 2017 by overwhelming vote. As of December 2019 time 80 countries have signed the Treaty and 34 of that number have ratified it. It will enter into force once 50 states have ratified. The TPNW is for the prohibition and ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.

The minority of states which have refused so far to engage with the TPNW are the nuclear-armed states (9 in all), their client and dependent states and those states (like Australia and Japan) who for some reason consider themselves to be under the US “nuclear umbrella”. Lets call this whole group the Nuclear-armed States Incorporated (NASTI). The question for citizens of those states is: What can I and we do in this hostile regime to support and advance the Treaty?

Quite a lot, actually. First of all we need to get the fact that the whole campaign to advance the TPNW (a campaign led by ICAN) transcends national borders in a way we haven’t yet got adjusted to. It is vital that we do. The climate emergency requires a worldwide connected response and the same holds true for the threat of nuclear war. For one thing the efforts of folk in the NASTI states give enormous encouragement to people in the 70 signatory states to keep the pressure on for ratification, and, for the 24 ratifiers, to begin to work out all the implications of that huge step for their own behaviour as a state. The external pressure from the Treaty supporting majority is linked strongly to any and every internal crack we can open in the NASTI states. In Scotland we already have a fine wrecking bar inserted in the nuclear concrete – but more of that in a moment. Apart from the great work being done internationally by ICAN there are brilliant campaigns in a number of NASTI countries. For example there is the Nuclearban.US with guidance on house to begin alignment with the Treaty at personal and work up to community, city, state and national level. ICAN Australia have a lively and visible campaign and has engaged the support of many parliamentarians.

In this whole mix Scotland is more important than most of us imagine. We are almost unique as a significant part of a nuclear-armed state which opposes the nuclear weapon policy of that state and aspires, realistically, to independence, which could then disarm the whole UK. But it is critical that we play an active part right now.

Here are some of the things we can do to align with the Treaty:

  1. Read it! It’s not long and it is a beautifully clear and compelling document.
  2. Check whether you MP and MSPs have signed the ICAN Parliamentarians Pledge in support of the Treaty. The majority of Scottish parliamentarians have signed but if any of yours haven’t then please nudge them. You can check that here. For those parliamentarians who have signed dropping them a card or an email thanking them for their stance is a very positive thing to do. And, of course we may have a Westminster election in the near future when we are likely to need to approach some new MPs.
  3. ICAN have a very useful way for cities and local governments to register their support for the Treaty in opposition to the stance of the national government. Many cities in NASTI states have already signed up to the Cities Appeal, including Paris, Toronto, Sydney, Nagasaki and Berlin. So far in Scotland we have Edinburgh, along with Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire. ICAN partners in Scotland are working on how to move this forward but it is not too soon to approach your ward councillors to encourage them to get their council on board.
  4. Follow the money. When the Treaty is in force signatory states will be barred for aiding and assisting the production or deployment of nuclear weapons and this includes ceasing to invest in companies involved in their manufacture or any aspect of their system. Some large international investment companies have caught on to this and have already decided to take their funds out of nuke related companies. We can lobby our local government to do likewise (as West Lothian Council has decided to do). Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland has an excellent guide on the ramifications of nuclear weapon money. Institutions can also be challenged to disinvest but . .
  5. . . it is also a personal matter. You can check whether the bank or banks that has your money by using the guide or writing to them to ask. If they do you can ask them to cease and switch to an ethical bank or building society if they refuse. Engaging with them is really important.
  6. Keep in touch as far as possible with what is happening with the Treaty worldwide. ICAN International is on Facebook and Twitter, ICAN UK is on Twitter, and .
  7. . with ICAN work in Scotland via this website, Scrap Trident on Facebook and Twitter, Scottish CND on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and Trident Ploughshares on Twitter.
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SCND JOIN HIROSHIMA FAST

SCND’s Iona Soper, Emma Cockburn, Janet Fenton and Brian Quail, and are undertaking a fast in commemoration of the atomic attacks by the US Government on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945. They act as part of an international initiative. Their statements will be issued, one for each day.

From Janet: Fasting from the day and time of the Hiroshima attack until the time of the Nagasaki attack for me is taking a little time and experiencing a little personal discomfort. It a kind of marker as each year goes by. I was young when I learned, from John Hersey’s book, Hiroshima, of the effects of the bomb detonated there and the shock of his words has never left me. At the time, as a child of the post-war years, I was aware of the Nuremberg trials, and fully expected the US Government to have to appear at the Hague. I imagined that the UK Government could not possibly understand what they were dealing with and I thought that when I explained they would stop it at once. Not so.

Years later, I ran a shop, a community resource, and that was when I started with the annual fast. We’d take all the stock out, and redecorate, and then some of us would just sit there, with water to drink, and people would call in to ask why there was nothing there although the door was open. It was a good opportunity to explain to people who might not have come to a public meeting or engaged with us on a street stall. The level of discomfort is far less than that experienced in various illnesses I have had to cope with, but it is real and it does focus on the essential frailty of the body and the changes that even a mere three days without food cause. A reminder that human beings (and other animals) need bodies to live in, and bodies are vulnerable. Its a profoundly personal experience and others may do something different.

However, Hiroshima must be remembered and the inextricable links between our treatment of the planet we rely on and the reality of our bodies must not be underestimated or ignored. In the 1960’s I started with stuffing envelopes for Youth CND, and activity for nuclear disarmament has taken me eventually to the UN and work on the prohibition treaty, and to resistance at the bases and the institutions of power. Reflection and engagement with the body and the planet are a necessary part of the activity.

From Brian: Day 3 and it’s getting difficult. Why am I fasting? I fast because this is – in the deepest sense – a gut response to the evil of Hiroshima. By this small act, I am spiritually identifying with the victims. People like Fukuhara Eiji, nine years old; he was walking to school when a red dragonfly flew past and settled on a fence. He reached out to catch it, and at that moment his world ended. When he came to, everything was darkness filled with screaming. He thought he had died and gone to hell. Then he saw shapes approaching and recognised his mother. He reasoned: This cannot be hell, because my mother is good, and she would not be in hell. But why are her clothes trailing behind her? Only it wasn’t her clothes, it was her skin.…

Everywhere was heard the cry for water Misu, Misu…. Miserere nobis, Domine. God forgive us the blast of our blasphemy. What we have done to your children, our brothers and sisters.

When I threw the chrysanthemums into the Kelvin, I though of the people who burnt black and maddened with pain, threw themselves into the water.

A surgeon bends over a little girl, and gently lifts her eyelids with tweezers. Her eyeballs had melted and run down her face. She is turned round and the doctor extracts a white maggot from her arm. Why does irradiated flesh fester so quickly?

I think of Analong Lijon, from the Marshal Islands, whom I met her in Glasgow. She told us of her experiences, as a victim of atom testing. She had had six miscarriages; her sister carried 13 dead babies She told us about the jellyfish babies, the miscarriages, the gross birth defects, babies like a bunch of grapes. The unspeakable horror. When she finished speaking I went up to her and took her little brown hand in mine. Not one word could I say to her. I still can’t.

I am sick of words. Of are death-bringing lies. “Trident” – Latin, abstract, remote classical and therefore acceptable. And all the other hellish weasel words. Deterrence, robust defence policy, multilateral, unilateral, balance phased reduction, surgical first strike, countervalue strategy and so on as nauseam.

I am sick of the whole hellish pantomime. So I fast.

From Iona: I am fasting for myself. I am fasting for strangers. I am fasting for the dead, along with those not yet born. I am fasting because I love this planet.

I am fasting because I do not have the luxury of ignorance about what nuclear weapons are, or what they can do. The censorship surrounding atomic bombs was lifted long before my birth, and I believe my generation has an obligation to resist the normalisation that replaced it. I will be spending the week at Faslane Peace Camp, where we will hold commemorative vigils for the victims of the 1945 nuclear attacks at the Faslane nuclear base across the road.

All are welcome to join the fast, or to join us at the peace camp in solidarity.

I am fasting to remember the terrible suffering that has already come about as a result of the atomic bombings in Japan. During the Pacific War, many children aged 6 – 11 were evacuated from central Hiroshima to the surrounding countryside amid fears for their safety. The bombing killed more than 90% of the central city’s population, creating a diaspora of young orphans who tried to return to the city, only to find their homes destroyed and families gone. Hibakusha Shoso Kawamoto recalls how a black market sprang up around the ruins of the train station, where local women set up stalls to attempt to feed the orphaned children. Older children bullied younger children; the only way the smaller ones could survive was by scraping the food left in the pans. Within months, many of the orphans had died of starvation. Shoso recalls that ‘some were so hungry, they died with stones in their mouths’.

I am fasting to foreshadow the terrible suffering that is yet to come if the struggle for peace cannot be realised. Research by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) suggests that if even as few as 100 Hiroshima sized warheads are used in a ‘regional conflict’, this would throw five million tonnes of black soot into the atmosphere, triggering a reduction of 1.25°C in the average temperature at the earth’s surface for several years. As a result, the annual growing season in the world’s most important grain-producing areas would shrink by between 10 and 20 days. Countries which import more than half of their grain, such as Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan, would be particularly vulnerable. So, too, would 150 million people in north Africa, which imports 45% of its food. Many of the 800 million around the world who are already officially malnourished would also suffer. Increases in food prices would make food inaccessible to hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest. Even if agricultural markets continued to function normally, 215 million people would be added to the list of the malnourished over the course of a decade. This level of malnourishment and starvation is unprecedented in human history, and one that we have not prepared for. Global grain reserves currently stand lower than they have in the last five decades.

I am fasting to protest the funding of human suffering over human need. Attention must be drawn to the grotesque amounts of money dedicated to warfare and weaponry in the name of ‘defence’, while so many souls are left defenceless against starvation. In this country alone, we have pledged £200bn of taxpayer funds to maintaining our weapons of mass destruction, while 8 million live in food poverty. Globally, one out of every nine humans on earth does not have enough food to sustain themselves. It is expected that over the next ten years, world governments will spend over $1 trillion on nuclear weapons.

I am fasting to acknowledge and salute the role of the woman in this struggle for peace.

I am fasting because hunger is a powerful force. By experiencing even one tiny aspect of the suffering I have dedicated myself to overting, it is my hope that I will do a stronger, hungrier, and more empathetic service to this vital campaign. We need change. We need it now. And we need it fast.

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FIVE PLAY TAG AT FASLANE


Campaigners Reclaim UK Nuke Base for Peace on Anniversary of Nuke Ban Treaty

On the second anniversary of the day that the United Nations agreed to ban the bomb Trident Ploughshares, in order to challenge Faslane’s legitimacy and highlight the progress that has been made since a huge majority of the world’s states took the ban decision, used spray paint to re-decorate the main entrance of the base for peace and blocked the the base’s other entrance.

Their aim was to remind the public and those working in the base that most governments now agree that nuclear weapons must be prohibited and eliminated and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) that was adopted at the UN aims to do just that. While the nuclear-armed states may not agree, they will have to come to terms somehow with the impact that the TPNW is already having because the ban prohibits any nuclear sharing, testing and development as well as use.

Trident Ploughshares is one of 400 partner organisations in ICAN – the worldwide campaign that worked to get the treaty adopted. Others partner organisations in Scotland share the commitment that nuclear weapons need to be removed not only from Scotland but from the world and the Scottish government is supportive. Since the TPNW opened for signature 24 out of the required 50 member states have already put the treaty through their national legislation and ratified it and around 20 more are actively working towards that. The number who have taken the initial action of signing the treaty is in excess of the number required.

The group had time to paint “Banned 7/7/17” and “Nae Nukes Anywhere” on the notice boards and “Scrap” and “Redundant” on the gate to the base, and also covered the roadway with slogans referring to the Ban Treaty. Eventually the MoD police arrived and arrested the three painters, Eoin McCarthy, Janet Fenton, Gillean Lawrence, charging them with vandalism. They were taken to Greenock police station and released shortly afterwards. Meanwhile Brian Quail from Glasgow and Willemien Hoogendoorn, from Faslane Peace Camp, were able to hold up base traffic by blocking the base’s south gate.

Janet Fenton, Vice-Chair of Scottish CND, who participated in the Treaty negotiations at the UN, said:

This is a real treaty that represents the global view of nuclear weapons in the light of the very real danger of burning up our planet and destroying all life. At a time when Scotland is in tune with a mature trans-national view it was necessary to re-name the base at Faslane for the redundant anachronism that it is.”

Gillean Lawrence said:

The Scottish government could be more assertive in publicising the ban treaty, especially since the First Minister and most parliamentarians support it – a first step to getting rid of nuclear weapons from Scotland. Scotland’s police and courts should be active in tackling this crime instead of arresting and convicting protesters.”

Eoin McCarthy said:

On the 2nd anniversary of the TPNW , after 122 countries voted to adopt it, and Extinction Rebellion has brought the climate crisis to public attention, Scotland wants to bin the bomb more than ever.”

Note:

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted by overwhelming vote at the UN in July 2107.Prior to the Treaty’s adoption, nuclear weapons, though clearly illegal by the basic principles of international humanitarian law, were the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to a comprehensive ban, despite their catastrophic, widespread and persistent humanitarian and environmental consequences. The new agreement fills a significant gap in international law. The TPNW prohibits signatory nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities. A nation that possesses nuclear weapons may join the treaty, so long as it agrees to destroy them in accordance with a legally binding, time-bound plan. Similarly, a nation that hosts another nation’s nuclear weapons on its territory may join, so long as it agrees to remove them by a specified deadline. The Treaty also deals with the disproportionate effect of ionised radiation on women and girls. Indeed, the whole ethos of the Treaty’s development is seen as a unique step forward in global disarmament with the voices of women prominent in the civil society and diplomatic contributions to its progress, in contrast to the conventional male-dominated discourse around security.

To enter into force the Treaty requires ratification by 50 states. So far 24 states have ratified, but 70 have already signed it, which is a preliminary to the more complex and slower process of ratification by national legislatures.

The “P5” nuclear-weapon states (US, UK, China, Russia and France) are critical of the Treaty and claim it will destabilise global security. The US, with the UK as a compliant partner, is applying background pressure on non-nuclear states not to sign and ratify the Treaty. In its leaked communication to NATO states in advance of the adoption of the Treaty the US urged a vote against adoption on the grounds of the potential effectiveness of the Treaty to critically hamper the “extended nuclear deterrence” it claims to provide.

Scotland is in the almost unique position of being a significant and distinct part of a Nuclear-armed states which opposes the nuclear weapon policy of that state. As well as the public and civil society backing for the anti-nuclear stance the majority of Scottish parliamentarians have expressed their support for the TPNW by signing the Parliamentary Pledgepromoted by the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). If Scotland becomes independent and continues to wish to be rid of the UK’s nuclear weapons it will, as a party to the Treaty, have additional legal backing in arranging their removal. It is widely acknowledged that in such a scenario the UK would not be able to find a replacement for the Faslane/Coulport complex and so continuing with sea-based ICBMs would not be feasible.

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EDINBURGH BACKS ICAN CITIES APPEAL

Congratulations to Edinburgh for making a capital move this week, with Green Councillors introducing a resolution for the city to become part of the ICAN Cities Appeal. The Cities Appeal describes the threat that nuclear weapons pose throughout the world, and insists that we all have the right to live free from such a catastrophic threat, and its consequences for people and the environment. The adoption of the treaty in 2017 is welcomed and Westminster is asked to join it. This appeal is being made to national governments by local legislative bodies throughout the nuclear-armed states in the world. They are calling for them to get on board and join the TPNW.

Edinburgh Council have taken the opportunity to add more, and introduce their resolution in line with Edinburgh’s status as an Nuclear Free Local Authority.

By working together, we could make sure that the majority of Scottish local authorities are signed up to the ICAN Cities Appeal before too long, and where the chance arises it can be added to as Edinburgh have done, either within the resolution or as a follow up.

Activists can be sure of support from the ICAN Scottish partners working on the Cities Appeal and our voices raised together will be heard. A simple message to your local councillor can go a long way! See the resources tab on this website for more details and contact the partner organisations via the links on the right or email us hello@nuclearban.scot.

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Climate Emergency & Nuclear Weapons

The Extinction Rebellion campers at Holyrood this week, and many of the commuters who listened to them at North Bridge road blocks, or the MSPs who came out of the debating chamber to talk to them are in now in agreement about the threat that faces all life on this planet from the human induced climate emergency. How have we come to such a crisis so late?

Our governments are wrangling over their ideologies instead of taking better care of us, or heeding the scientists who have been pointing out the risks to the planet and its peoples are facing?   The climate emergency has not replaced the nuclear threat and scientists are telling us that both require  interrelated and immediate attention as well as urgent action by people everywhere.

There are more than 14,000 nuclear weapons positioned across our world, 120 of them sited here in Scotland (despite a parliament and a government who have declared their opposition to the UK policy  that sees them as required). Each100 kiloton nuclear weapon detonated would take around 10 seconds to produce a fireball hotter than the sun over a three kilometer radius, while carbon is hefted into the atmosphere, and ash obscures light and warmth.  The possibility of combating this kind of assault on the physics of the planet without the climate emergency rapidly going out of any control is remote. The extreme and violent weathers that are part of the climate emergency closing in on us make water and food shortages and human migration inevitable, causing conflicts and making the likelihood of an accident or deliberate use of nuclear weapons increasingly likely.

This is why the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have set their Doomsday Clock at two minutes to a midnight that means annihilation, from the twin threats of nuclear weapons and the climate emergency.  Surely now, the adoption in 2017 by the majority of the UN members of a new treaty to absolutely prohibit nuclear weapons, The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), can eliminate one aspect of this deadly double edged threat. The model process of transnational co operation, responsible, careful listening and facing up to the truth that put the Treaty in place could be the key to sufficiently speedy action to respond to the other.

The extinction threat level is severe. The UK Government has had its knuckles rapped over its hypocritical arms trading to Yemen and its come-uppance over its shameful  treatment of the Chagos Islanders. So much for the credibility of the UK and the US as responsible leaders of a free world. Should Boris or Hunt get any mandate to resolve the crisis? More on this issue in the next edition of SCND’s Nuclear Free Scotland..

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West Dunbartonshire Joins Global Movement and Urges UK Gov. to sign UN Nuclear Ban Treaty

ICAN
in Scotland

Press Release 31st May 2019 – for immediate use

At a Council meeting this week West Dunbartonshire approved a resolution supporting the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), noting the catastrophic global effects of any use of nuclear weapons and deploring the transporting of the UK’s nuclear warheads on local roads.

The resolution1 was moved by Councillor Ian Dickson, who said:

We have clearly demonstrated our concerns, for our safety, health, environment, the global food chain, for future generations and their cultural inheritance. West Dunbartonshire doesn’t need or want these Nukes of Hazard passing through our local areas. These weapons of mass destruction are travelling far too close for comfort to our homes, schools, and workplaces and this motion reasserts that they are not wanted on our soil in West Dunbartonshire.”

The Council also passed a resolution relating to the climate emergency and calling on the Strathclyde Pension Fund (which handles pensions for the local authorities which replaced Strathclyde Regional Council) to divest from fossil fuels and also from nuclear weapons.

The TPNW2, adopted at the UN in 2017 by overwhelming vote is expected to enter into force in 2020, when the necessary fifty states have ratified it.

West Dunbartonshire is the third UK jurisdiction to support the TPNW, after Manchester and Renfrewshire, and follows a rapidly developing worldwide trend for cities, states and council areas to express their alignment with the Treaty, including Paris, Toronto, Geneva, Washington DC, Sidney and Berlin, plus two US states, California and New Jersey.3

Janet Fenton, ICAN’s Scottish liaison, said:

West Dumbartonshire joining other Scottish Councils in support for the UN Treaty to prohibit Nuclear Weapons shows how Scotland can contribute to the safer saner world that the the majority of countries around the world are working for. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Partners across the world are happy to see that Scottish cities as well as Scottish parliamentarians say “No nukes here – or anywhere.”

This is more than a gesture. It is a significant step in solidarity with those worldwide who are threatened by the nuclear-armed states. As the pressure for divestment shows, this is about practical moves to align with the Treaty. We would encourage all Scottish local authorities and cities to follow West Dunbartonshire’s example.”

Contact: Janet Fenton 07795 594573

nuclearban.scot

1Full text of resolution:

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
West Dunbartonshire Council is deeply concerned about the grave threat that nuclear weapons pose to communities throughout the world. We firmly believe that our residents have the right to live in a world free from this threat. Any use of nuclear weapons, whether deliberate or accidental, would have catastrophic, far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for people and the environment. Council fully supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as one of the most effective ways to bring about long-term and verifiable nuclear disarmament and reaffirms our commitment to West Dunbartonshire’s designation as a Nuclear Free Zone. To this end council asserts its opposition to the illegal transportation of nuclear weapons on our roads and rail networks on moral and safety grounds. Council instructs the Leader of the Council to write to the UK Government to inform them of this resolution and urge them to take account of it.”

2 http://www.icanw.org/the-treaty/

3 http://nuclearban.org/cities

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Wey Forrit for Scotland – learning from Europe

In the week beginning 11th March 2019 a series of meetings were held in Glasgow and Edinburgh featuring European visitors and discussing peace-building opportunities and challenges in the context of Brexit, the future of NATO and the militarisation of the European Union. A detailed compilation of their presentations over the three meetings is below this article.

At first glance the contributions of the four speakers to the meetings could be seen as diffuse, with no obvious unifying theme. Given time to digest the inputs, the messages are both coherent and relevant.

One element in the meetings was represented by two speakers from small countries, Scotland- sized but independent, Anne Palm from Finland and Roger Cole from Ireland. Both nations, in tension with that independence and a good track record on positive international diplomacy, have behaviours that place them firmly in one or more of the world’s major power blocs and with dubious connections to global conflict. Ireland has the notorious Shannon airport contradiction and is content to play its part in the militarisation of the EU. Finland provides intelligence to NATO and has a significant arms exporting record, some of it to dubious regimes. There is a marked difference between Anne and Roger on the EU. Ann sees the EU as a positive institution and feels the military plans do not amount to much while Roger reckons that the EU has imperial ambitions that it is increasingly ready to back up with a genuine war-making structure.

Many will feel that tension within their own take on the EU and on Brexit, responding on the one hand to the early post-war European vision for peace across the continent and the EU’s institutional frameworks for human and workplace rights and for environmental standards, and on the other to the realistic recognition that the Union operates as a global trading bloc on neo-liberal economic principles, making it highly plausible that it will aspire to a fully-fledged military identity. It also seems highly likely that Brexit will serve to accelerate that process, given that the UK has been resistant to a clear EU military identity on the grounds that it will undermine NATO and reliance on the US for military security.

All these questions and suggestions are sharply relevant to a Scotland moving towards independence. Those of us who want our country to be for peace will interrogate such options as we will have. This will include looking twice at any EU membership option and exploring whether Danish-style military opt-out protocols are possible. Can we be genuinely non-aligned or do fail to set our ambitions beyond a fudge in which our bloc alignment actions are covert or simply downplayed? On the positive side will we match Ireland and Finland in contribution to genuinely inclusive international institutions? Will our concept of security be limited to conventional military threat-related perspectives or be based (as Anne Palme proposed) on real human needs?

The scrutiny of the future options also impels current action. There is much that we can do right now to contribute to the inclusive international institutions by seeking assertive and imaginative ways to participate on the basis that so much of our aspiration for a peaceful world is subverted by being formally represented through the narrow channel of the UK.

There are the tricky but inescapable challenges in Scotland’s arms exporting and the support the Scottish government give to it. There’s education, formal and otherwise.

Then there is the question of whether we will have any future at all. Dave Webb’s presentation of one of two (known) existential threats we face was stark He made it clear that our response needs to be global in its perspective, in the way it works at solidarity, in the way it links the grass-roots with the governmental and diplomatic, in the requirement to work together worldwide to provide the essential counter-narrative. Working for the TPNW covers all these elements.

Ann Paterson’s contribution took us to the heart of the dynamics of violence and of peace. Her warning that internecine violence can break out at a moment’s notice is to be heeded. We are aware that our social and political discourse has become more and more polarised. We need to balance our commitment to good and just stances with the ability to cross the boundaries and identify common values. In the peace movement we have the resources to hand to do this but we have to give this part of the work greater prominence and status within our programmes and personally.

David Mackenzie February 2019

Compilation

Dave Webb, chair of UK CND, has a science background and at one time worked for the MoD on assessing Soviet threats in space. Appalled by the confrontational “worse-case scenario” approach of the planners he got involved in politics during the mass movements of the early 80s. The possibility of intermediate range nuclear weapons coming back into Europe is alarming. NATO has completely reneged on the agreement it made at the time of the break up of the Soviet Union that the Alliance would not seek members among those states physically closest to Russia in order to have a buffer zone. Acknowledging that there was currently no such mass movement confronting the current perilous situation but there is hope that one can now be built, especially given the grass-roots impetus behind the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The SNP in changing to a pro-NATO policy has made a serious error given that the UK’s nuclear weapons are allocated to the alliance and how the NATO military infrastructure is designed to be inter-operable with US systems to the benefit of US arms corporations. In this scenario the UK cannot fail to have a first-strike nuclear policy since that is the NATO stance. As regards the increasingly militarised EU, do we leave or stay in and attempt reform. We should bear in mind that there are three forms of violence, direct, structural and cultural and all need to be resisted. Co-operation and negotiation has to be the way forward.

Ann Patterson oBelfast Peace People. In Ann’s experience most people are peace people. The roots of her own pacifism was the accounts of the Holocaust told her by her Jewish teacher. Ann worked with the Quakers and was aware of their good reputation in Ireland. On one occasion amidst the anger of a big protest against the release of 3 convicted British soldiers her Quaker minibus was let through the crowds by protesters who said that the Quakers had saved so many during the Famine. She had engaged in prison education in the infamous H Block. The horrors of ISIS and Syria recalled for her the terrible state of NI during the troubles. The founding of the Peace People resonated very deeply across the polarised and divided community, and very quickly resulted in the formation of nearly four hundred small but vociferous and active groups forming and demonstrating locally every week, eventually this included together travelling to London where together they filled Trafalgar Square.

Ann showed a moving film about the NI Troubles and the widespread revulsion at one particular tragedy that led to peace-making across the boundaries. There was the sense that the community had lost its soul and that the violence had to stop somehow. The Brexit threat to the open border between north and south is very worrying since violence can break out so very quickly in an apparently calm and stable situation.

Ann Palme, of the Finnish Wider Security Network (formed 2015) spoke of the Finnish view on peace. The Network operates in an integrated way with Finnish Government rather than just as a pressure group.

Finland has not been involved in armed conflict since 1944 and is currently at No 7 on the Global Peace Index. Current concerns are the Trump unpredictability, Russian aggression, the general descent into power politics and Brexit – all indicating a decline in international co-operation. Ann was very positive about the EU and the need for a common security and defence policy. In her view the European army was hardly a reality. She said that Finland has stayed out of all alliances and plays a big part in peace-keeping via the UN and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Finland only became independent in 1917 after being part of Sweden and then Russia with whom it shares a 1340 kilometre border. Finnish people just want a quiet life! Finland has not signed the TPNW due to its NATO alignment and says that the NPT is the important treaty in regard to nuclear weapons. added that the main parties in Finland wanted to stay out of NATO, a stance affected by Russia’s proximity, but still remain closely co-operative with it. Peace-building and mediation are essential and we need more women and young people to be active in these fields. In its mediation activities, Finland pays special attention to measures that enhance the role and ownership of women in peace processes in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, “Women, Peace and Security”. Finland has its own National Action Plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325, and Finnish experiences have been shared with partners in countries such as Kenya and Afghanistan.A big advantage in Finland is government funding, without strings, for NGOs. Scotland could play a significant part in peace-building and mediation. The Finnish have the word “sisu” (stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness) to describe their national character, a term similar to the Scottish “smeddum”!

Roger Cole of the Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). PANA is committed to Irish independent operation in the context of the UN and was instrumental in initiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Roger spoke of the growing militarisation of the EU and the recent mentions by Macron and Merkel of the European Army. Based on its concerns about neutrality PANA had campaigned at a series of referenda on Europe, including successfully at the first referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The plan for developing the EU as a military power is in the Lisbon Treaty leading to battle groups and the 2017 EU Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defence Organisation (PESCO), and it could involve nuclear weapons. It is notable that Denmark in joining the EU did so on the basis of protocols which excluded it from the the military dimension. As things stand for Ireland membership of the EU and involvement in the military aspect mean that the Irish have given up their loyalty to their own country in favour an external union. PANA is in favour of an economic partnership and does not advocate leaving the EU. Independence and neutrality are key. Irish neutrality is of course critically compromised by the use of Shannon airport for regular transit of US forces. Most Irish people, though against the never ending wars, know nothing of this – it is not reported in mainstream media and we have to harness the power of social media to get the story out. PANA now has the support of 52 Irish parliamentarians and 70% of the population is against the US use of Shannon. While stressing neutrality and independence Roger was clear that PANA’s is not a “Little Irelander” stance and it supports independence for others, such as currently Venezuela.

END

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Three Consulates and a Branch Office

Yesterday the Peaton Peace Pirates, a Trident Ploughshares affinity group attempted to call on the US, French and Chinese Consulates in Edinburgh and the Scotland Office as the representative office of the British State, in order ask them to engage urgently in diplomatic moves to defuse the current critically dangerous situation.

The visits were a follow-up to letters sent last week to representatives in Edinburgh of the ‘P5’ nuclear armed states, requesting a meeting at a specified time. The only reply received was from the Russian Consul-General, offering a meeting at a later date, so his office was not visited on this occasion.
Supported by members of Scottish CND, Edinburgh CND and Edinburgh Yes, and wearing fleeces marked ‘TPNW monitoring and compliance squad’, we went equipped with notices of non-compliance to issue to the Consulates (“This state is in non-compliance with UN nuclear weapon treaties” and “Warning: toxic diplomacy”).

At each location the Police prevented us from speaking to anyone inside, by insisting that all the buildings remain closed during our visit, so we had no alternative but to paste our non-compliance notices to the doors, walls and pavements of the buildings, along with other messages done in chalk, whilst reading out sections of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (2017) through a megaphone. The notices were quickly removed by the Police, with repeated threats that we would be arrested if we pasted up any more, so we did but we weren’t…. We ended each visit with a rousing rendition of the song “Freedom Come All Ye”.

At the French Consulate we were intrigued to be told that we weren’t allowed to mark the building as that would be in contravention of Article 22 of the Geneva Convention! We replied that we were very keen on the Geneva Convention but wondered why the Police were upholding this Article and neglecting others? – later research showed that the Police person had actually meant the Vienna Convention. 

Although we were unable to speak directly to any officials on this occasion, they will be hearing from us again!

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