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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Scotland at The UN for Nuclear Ban Week

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At the end of this week, a Scottish delegation of doctors, academics, campaigners, researchers and a member of the Scottish Parliament (Bill Kidd MSP, Convenor Scottish Parliament Nuclear Disarmament Cross-Party Group) will travel to New York to attend the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the UN as it continues the negotiations to strengthen the ban – Nuclear Ban Week! 

The states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will be meeting at the UN in New York from 27 November to 1 December to review progress on the treaty’s implementation and agree on action to further strengthen it. 

With the Manhattan Project, New York was where nuclear weapons began; this second meeting of TPNW States Parties is where their end is being designed.

The meeting will hear reports from states which are already members of the Treaty on their work to implement the Vienna Action Plan which was agreed last year.

These states are preparing to strengthen the treaty with decisions on high-stakes matters such as the verification regime and assistance to victims of nuclear use and testing, which will encourage more states to sign and ratify the treaty. 

The states parties have also been urging nuclear-armed states and their allies to, at the minimum, start engaging with the TPNW by being observers at this meeting, following the example of the NATO members which observed the first MSP last year.

Currently 97 states have either signed, ratified or acceded to the treaty since it opened for signature.

Deterrence is an unproven gamble, based on the implicit threat to use nuclear weapons, that has brought the world close to nuclear war on a number of occasions, and nuclear sharing is a dangerous practice that further exacerbates the risks of proliferation and nuclear use.

Both of these activities are banned by the TPNW.

The meeting will reiterate the call on all states to abandon nuclear deterrence theory as an unacceptable threat to humanity.

The climate crisis, which is on course to make much of the world uninhabitable, along with conflicts affecting millions of lives in Europe and the Middle East, have heightened awareness that we are at grave risk of annihilation.

While Scotland cannot join the UN, all of the UK’s weapons are based here despite Scottish Parliamentary and Government opposition to them.

The Scottish delegation attending the meeting in New York will be advocating the necessity of prohibition and elimination of all nuclear weapons, including the UK’s system based in Scotland, as the only acceptable response to the exponential risk of nuclear accident or escalation.

The TPNW is the legal instrument that can make this a reality, and specifically addresses action for the removal of any weapons belonging to another state.

On her recent visit to the Scottish Parliament, and at Scottish CND’s Festival for Survival in Glasgow, ICAN’s executive director Melissa Parke urged the Scottish people and their Parliament to ensure that accession to the TPNW is clearly articulated in any prospective constitutional arrangements, before any commitment to a Scotland in NATO or any other military alliance.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its contribution to getting the TPNW adopted, and the UN has appointed ICAN to co-ordinate civil society participation in New York. 

As happened throughout the negotiations which preceded the Treaty’s adoption at the UN in 2017, this meeting will bring in a variety of sectors from government and civil society to the financial community each acting on their own area of responsibility such as health, finance, environment and climate change. 

Survivors, scientists and researchers will engage in a range of events aimed at informing and briefing diplomats about the ongoing harms and dangers, and Nuclear Ban Week week will start with a global day of action for the TPNW. 

All around the world, people will be taking action to ask those participating in the meeting in New York to be bold and courageous in using the TPNW to dismantle nuclear deterrence and make sure the rest of the world is paying attention to this crucial opportunity.

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