After the UN’s holiday weekend, and a new influx of campaigners fully briefed from the weekend orientation meeting, the International Campaigner’s morning meeting was highly charged. However, the new draft still had not arrived and we were not even fully aware of whether we were going to be allowed into the conference room.
Not withstanding, we used the time productively, with suggestions about reaching out to the campaigns at home in preparation for the work to be done next week when the treaty will hopefully be concluded. A new initiative, which had been discussed informally over the weekend, for the nuclear weapons states to find ways to work more closely and keep one another advised of the political and campaigning opportunities in our different environments was flagged up, and a meeting for those interested planned.
I was able to meet up with Frank Richards who arrived today. He will be completing the handover of copies of Tim Wallis’ book on refuting deterrence theory to a diplomat from each member state. The UK Abolition 2000 group have paid for these. Frank was pleasantly surprised that the job is so near to complete, and big thanks to our Andy for his help with that.
Then the draft came our and we had a chance to look at it and make some notes before the very important and informative side event presented by one of the ICAN founders, Dr Ira Helfand He is a Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility and is currently the Co-President of our global federation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, along with his colleague, Dr. Alan Robock, a Distinguished Professor of climate science at Rutgers University. Prof. Robock was the State Climatologist of Maryland, 1991-1997, before coming to Rutgers.’s His areas of expertise include climatic effects of nuclear war and effects of volcanic eruptions on climate. They presented a unique and critically important message about the dangers of nuclear war and climate change which was very compelling and technically robust and I think that their message would resonate powerfully for people in Scotland. The presentation had a very shocking and sobering impact, even amongst experienced nuclear disarmament campaigners.
We then held a campaigners meeting on the new draft, which has strengthened the provisions and the importance of civil society participation. In the general obligations finance is still not spelt out in the section prohibiting assistance and the terms around safeguards are still needing further clarity. Threat is not yet prohibited and the possibility is still there for withdrawal from the treaty. Sections dealing with victim assistance, environmental responsibilities and the disproportionate impact on victims and girls are greatly enhanced, and the revision is generally positive.
When we returned to the room for the session on the new draft, it was made clear by the President that the sections that require further work are not seen as complete and the co-operative approach was stressed as well as opportunities for diplomats and civil society participants to continue to work co-operatively. The afternoon session was again held with no reporting so I must only assure readers that the positive continuation of the work gives real hope for a strong treaty being completed within the time scale.
The meeting for campaigners in nuclear weapons states was brief, and our US colleagues are finding the political situation in the US very dispiriting when it comes to nuclear disarmament discourse. Sisters Ardath Platte and Carol Gilbert spoke with passion for the need to work across the options, political, diplomatic, spiritual and with non violent direct action. This message, and a reminder of the TP disarmament camp at Coulport was well received by the room.