A Ban Is Coming

trident-protest-001On Friday 19th August in Geneva, Bill Kidd MSP and co-chair of Parliamentarians for Nuclear non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), and Janet Fenton, Scottish CND Secretary and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) representative, were both in Geneva to see a UN working group achieve what Mexico described as the “most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades.” The Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) voted to make a recommendation to the UN General Assembly in October, that it convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

This came as the very dramatic end to discussions that had taken place in February, May and August. Joint statements were delivered by Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and by South-east Asia and Pacific, as well as the statements from several European states. There was also active participation from civil society through NGOs and experts, including the Hiroshima survivor SetsukoThurlow, who took time to visit Scotland after giving evidence to the OEWG in May this year.

The nine nuclear-armed states had boycotted the talks despite a clear request for input expressed through the UN General Assembly, and a small group of the states who attended continued to argue that nuclear weapons provide an essential element in their national security. Fortunately these governments were unable to compromise the important recommendation which went forward.

Over one hundred states wanted to recommend that UN General Assembly convene a conference to negotiate a ban, but they wanted to ensure that all the states would feel able to participate in making that decision, and the chair was keen to ensure consensus if possible. Private discussions took place intensly over a day and a half between groups and compromises were made before the whole working group came together to approve the Chair’s final report half an hour before the final session was scheduled to conclude.

In an eleventh-hour copletely unexpected intervention, the Australian delegate intervened to disagree and force a vote. This seemed ironic, given that the states who did not participate and who did not agree that a ban was the right way forward were those who had objected to the meeting making decisions through voting.

The decision meant that the conference had to be extended in time and moved to a different room. Guatamala requested then that the text be clarified to recommend negotiation. Some pro-ban delegates were unable to vote because their governments were not contactable for approval to the changed text, and some were already booked on flights home.

Despite the problems and the absences, the amended text was accepted and the final, strengthened, report was adopted by a clear majority.

Amongst many delegates thanking the chair after the report was adopted, Bill Kidd MSP said

“I am a Member of the Scottish Parliament and a Co-President of PNND, actively engaged in the OEWG. The report of the OEWG reflects well the reality that non-nuclear nations, as well as parliaments and civil society in all countries, can take action without having to wait for the nuclear-armed governments to come to their senses. We can do this.

In Scotland, our parliament and citizens have overwhelmingly rejected the possession of nuclear weapons. We take an active role in international efforts and processes for nuclear disarmament, including at the NPT Review Conferences, and we therefore look forward to participating in the multilateral negotiations in 2017.

As a Scot, living under the imposed nuclear weapons of the UK, I am pleased to note that UK Prime Minister Theresa May was amongst the leaders convicted by the People’s Tribunal on Nuclear Weapons that on July 8 this year convicted the leaders of the nuclear-armed States of crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and crimes against future generations for their responsibility over illegal nuclear weapons policies.”

Janet Fenton added

“It is now clear that Scotland’s efforts to dissuade the UK from its attachment to Trident is in line with the majority world view. Of those participating in the OEWG, at least 107 states support negotiations, and only 22 do not. Scotland will participate and contribute to the concerted challenge to nuclear weapons within and beyond these negotiations.”


Comments (9)

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  1. MLL says:


  2. Robert Graham says:

    The CIA never sleeps it merely changes direction when threatened , their dead hand in action here no doubt . A tool of the most dangerous nation on the planet the good old USA our friends ? .

  3. bringiton says:

    Unfortunately,England’s Tories have a track record of giving the EU,UN and anyone else who disagrees with them the finger.
    As long as they continue to consider themselves a world power,i.e. the ability to bully others,nothing is going to change.
    Perhaps if we Scots were to take away their parking space for Trident,something might happen but unlikely.

  4. heather mccathie says:

    Well done Janet and all of you fighting to keep this country safe for our children and grandchildren #proud#

  5. Alex P says:

    The justification for having nuclear weapons is exactly the same as that used by the American gun lobby. Fortunately nuclear weapons are used less frequently, but depleted uranium shells are nuclear weapons. These too must be outlawed.

  6. Vladimir Putin says:

    Mexico described it as “most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades.” HOLY CRAP!!!…MEXICO!!! Thats amazing…with the mexicans stamp of approval the momentum is surely unstoppable….if only the Philippines or Albania had said the same…but no point in dreaming too high….

  7. Frank says:

    Yon medieval Italian guy, Machiavelli, said that people dreamed about a golden age that never was nor ever will be so let us deal with the real world. Let’s take his advice. If you want to get rid of nuclear weapons you had better teach your children and grandchildren how to use a rifle, machine gun, hand grenade etc. etc. oh, and don’t forget the bayonet – that pointed piece of steel on the end of your rifle that you stick into the other guy when it gets really up close and personal. Of course you might not need to teach then, if we get “independence in Europe” they will be taught all that in the new EU army. War is a fact of life and there have been wars as long as there have been governments. Another fact of life is that two nuclear armed countries have never gone to war with each other – simply because it would be MAD (mutually assured destruction) to do so. It is nuclear weapons that prevented my generation from being slaughtered somewhere in central Europe and it is nuclear weapons that keep the peace between the major powers today. If you want to know what a world without nuclear weapons is like watch “The World at War.” Nuclear weapons will only be abolished when someone invents a superior way to kill lots of people all at once.

    1. Peacenik says:

      A world with no nuclear weapons:

      Pakistan and India locked in a genocidal religous war
      China invading Taiwan Korean Peninsula engulfed in WW1 style attritional warfare. Japans pacifism tested by Chinese aggression in South Chinese Sea
      Russian annexation of Ukraine, Baltic States and anywhere else where there is a Russian speaking minority. Poland would become the worlds largest tank park so long as USA remains committed to NATO and doesn’t just cut us loose to cut costs
      USA free to intervene politically or militarily South and Central America, and Africa or basically anywhere direct military contact with Russia or China will not occur

      What a brave new world……

    2. SimonB says:

      Nuclear Weapons, as with previous outlawed weapons, will become redundant as we evolve as a species, becoming less affected by fear and more motivated by dignity and compassion.

      ‘Might is right’ belongs to a dinosaur, patriarchal age, perpetuating the rotten injustice and inequality of the past condemning all of us to a state of shame and denial, in a world where there is otherwise more than enough to satisfy a dignified existence for all.

      Costa Rica was the first country to de-militarise and now has the highest quality of life as quantified by the New Economics Foundation.


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