The Treaty

UK, Scotland & the ban

With Trident at our doorsteps and a clear opposition to nuclear weapons Scotland has more to say than the rest of the UK. While the UK government is expected to be outside protesting, Scotland will try its best to voice its support for a ban inside the negotiations rooms. Read more about Scotland’s side of the story and its ambitions.

The case for the ban

We should ban nuclear weapons because:

  • they are the most inhumane weapons;
  • today’s nukes are thousands of times more powerful & could kill millions in one go;
  • all the other Weapons of Mass Destruction are banned already;
  • their risk is unacceptable and accidents happen;
  • they don’t differentiate between military targets and hospitals or nurseries;
  • they harm and contaminate our environment;
  • radioactivity persist for thousands of years;
  • a nuclear war would lead to catastrophic global climate change, famine and human extinction;
  • we cannot afford 15,000+ nuclear weapons draining our much needed resources;
  • they fail to address terrorism and cyber war and  make us a vulnerable target;
  • we want to avoid regional nuclear arms races & prevent other countries developing them.

Read the detailed case for the ban here.

The negotiations

The UN negotiations will take place in New York from 27 to 31 March and from 15 June to 7 July 2017, with the participation of governments, international organizations and civil society representatives. Read more about the negotiations process and how Scotland is being represented.

How would it work?

Previous experiences show that a ban provides a solid foundation for advancing elimination. While this will not immediately archive global nuclear disarmament it will help by stigmatising the possession of nuclear weapons. Possessing countries and arms companies will find it harder and harder to acquire resources for work on illegal weapons, transport the weapons and the materials, modernise their programmes and their reputation and status would be at risk. It would challenge allies of nuclear- armed nations to end their support for the indefinite retention of nuclear forces. And it would provide a strong basis for arguing that financial institutions everywhere should redirect their investments. In other words a ban would challenge all those who help sustain our nuclear -armed world.  And if this is not convincing enough read about US writing to its NATO allies about the impact of a potential nuclear ban.

How we got here?

Fed up by the inefficiency of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty the non-nuclear countries along with the civil society made steps for a global treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Three conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons hosted by Norway (2013), Mexico and Austria (2014) clarified the urgent need to prohibit these weapons under international law. The Austrian governments made a Humanitarian Pledge to “fill the gap that could lead to elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons”. The UN established an open-ended working group (OEWG) and all states were encouraged to send delegates.

In Oct 2016 the First Committee of the United Nations debated a resolution to have a conference in 2017 that will negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, which will start the process of prohibiting and eliminating these most devastating of weapons of mass destruction. The result was that 123 nations voted in favour of the resolution, with 38 against and 16 abstaining. Read more about these meetings and Scotland’s participation.