Scottish disarmament campaigners speak out ahead of UN vote on nuclear weapons ban


UK resisting moves towards multilateral disarmament as Bill Kidd MSP is denied official delegation status

SCOTTISH nuclear disarmament campaigners are in New York, desperately lobbying to help bring forward a landmark UN vote on a nuclear weapons treaty ban.

The UK is one of a small number of countries, including the world’s nine nuclear weapons powers, holding off attempts by a majority of UN states to move towards a UN nuclear weapons ban treaty.

SNP MSP Bill Kidd, an opponent of nuclear weapons, was denied a place in the UK’s official delegation to the UN on the matter, despite his status as a member of the Scottish Parliament and the situation of the UK’s trident nuclear weapons in Scotland. Kidd has instead been invited by anti-nuclear weapons organisations to attend. The weapons are due to be renewed at an expected cost of well over £100bn following a vote at Westminster in July.

Read: Statement from Scottish campaigners on UN resolution for nuclear weapons ban treaty

The main period of debates in the UN first committee in New York has ended, and a vote on Resolution L.41 for a ban treaty, which calls for a three week conference to draft a treaty for a ban, will now take place as early as 26 October and as late as 2 November.

Secretary of Scottish CND and parliamentary liaison for the Scottish section of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Janet Fenton, who was involved with the Scottish delegation to UN headquarters in New York, told CommonSpace that the 127 states who initially requested discussion on a ban treaty have been motivates by fear of the “catastrophic” danger posed by the tiny number of nuclear armed states, including the UK.

Scottish CND secretary and WILPF parliamentary liason Janet Fenton with Bill Kidd MSP in New York 

She said: “Nuclear weapons do not provide security, cannot ever be used legally, and are the only indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction that are not banned. The danger of catastrophic humanitarian consequences is now fully understood by the countries that would be affected and they are not going to acquiesce.

“It saddens and angers me to read dismissal of the hard work, international co-operation and careful listening that went into the work that was accomplished at the OEWG despite the boycotting by UK and other nuclear armed states. If you want these weapons banned, don't hand over your power to people like Theresa May: work with the people who are making progress. Don't rely on UK main stream media to report (or not) what the world is doing. Ask questions, raise objections. Scotland has its part to play.”

Should the resolution, officially tilted ‘Talking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations’, pass and a treaty finally adopted, the process would represent the biggest breakthrough in the international diplomatic effort to restrict the growth of the nuclear arms race since the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was adopted in 1970. The NPT was meant to restrict the expansion of the number of nuclear armed states, but left ambigious the legal status of the enormously destructive weapons, which are designed to target large popluation centres.

Explainer: How can Trident be disarmed? 

A large majority of UN states are thought to support the idea of a ban treaty, since they lack any interest in the maintenance of the international nuclear arms race. However, powerful nuclear states, including the UK and the US, are expected to lobby hard to push non-nuclear armed states in their spheres’ of influence not to back the resolution.

The efforts of the ‘big powers’ took a knock yesterday (19 October) when Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström informed the Swedish Parliament’s committee on foreign affairs that the country will vote in favour of the treaty.

Sweden is close to Nato, the western powers military and nuclear weapons alliance, although it is not an official member.

Fenton’s appeal from Scottish anti-nuclear campaigners at the UN has been published exclusively by CommonSpace and can be read in full here.

The UK foreign office was contacted for comment on the UN first committee proceedings, but had not responded by time of publication.

Picture courtesy of Michelle Lee

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