AT 11pm tonight the First Committee of United Nations voted to put into place a conference in 2017 that will negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, which like the Land Mine and Cluster Munition Ban Treaties will start the process of prohibiting and eliminating these most destructive of weapons of mass destruction.
Despite the global desire to prohibit nuclear weapons, The International Campaign for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons has struggled with and now overcome the resistance of the Nuclear Armed states including the UK government to taking this very necessary first step.
This historic vote has been opposed in every way by the nuclear-armed states like the UK, and their dependents like the NATO states. They have boycotted the discussions and pressurised the smaller states through their control of development resources or by utilising the time differences to make communication between diplomats in New York and governments in the southern hemisphere extremely difficult.
Our Scottish government and parliament are in favour of the ban treaty, but UK diplomat Matt Rowland insisted that the UK has a democratic mandate to pursue foreign policy based on the nuclear weapons at Faslane.
Bill Kidd, MSP and Co-President of the International Organisation, Parliamentarians for Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament tonight said:
“This result at the UN in New York is a very powerful symbol of the feelings of people the world over that nuclear weapons aren’t needed and aren’t wanted. Only the arrogance of politicians in the Nuclear Weapons States stands in the way of a world without these weapons of mass-murder where real international security can be built.”
The importance of the change a nuclear weapons ban treaty will have for UK defence strategy and global politics cannot be overstated. ICAN campaigners in Scotland and the rest of the UK have sent advance notices to mainstream news media and to the BBC news and the result of the vote will be made available to them as soon as it happens, so hopefully it will be widely reported.
The strong support for our open letter to Boris Johnson, and the similar letter sent by ICAN in London from UK peace organisations, will have gone some way to ensure that the UK Government is aware that the eyes of the world are upon them, and that their decisions do not have the support that UK Ambassador Matt Rowling suggested it had when he claimed that only the foolhardy who do not understand global security issues would support a ban. Likewise, the people of Scotland do not agree that the UK has made a democratic decision to renew Trident.
Brexit is not the only aspect of UK Foreign policy that puts Scotland in democratic deficit in the global community as well as at home. In addition, there are many who consider that Scotland with its distinct legal system has rights and responsibilities under international humanitarian law to insist that nuclear weapons are removed from the country.
“Brexit is not the only aspect of UK Foreign policy that puts Scotland in democratic deficit in the global community as well as at home. In addition, there are many who consider that Scotland with its distinct legal system has rights and responsibilities under international humanitarian law to insist that nuclear weapons are removed from the country.”
Further, the European Union’s legislature announced its recommendation that the EU’s Member States should “support the convening” and “participate substantively” in its negotiation. While their governments at home, together with the world’s nuclear-armed states, are almost the only countries globally to oppose a ban treaty, the people’s representatives in the European Parliament took a view that much closer mirrors what surveys have been showing for a long time: we reject nuclear weapons, and will not want to entrust our “security” to a so-called deterrence gamble that has failed far too often to guarantee 100% reliability.
The Conference that the resolution has agreed will be convened over 22 days in 2017 and consider the necessary legal instruments. Scotland, along with many others will have their part to play in the work to be done.