Scottish diplomatic mission braces for vote on UN nuclear weapons treaty ban

Campaigners and politicians pushing for a ban treaty to supersede non-proliferation

A SCOTTISH mission of politicians and campaigning organisations is bracing itself for the results of a UN vote on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

A UK delegation is lobbying hard against the vote, expected today (Thursday 27 October) or tomorrow (Friday 28 October), and has refused permission for Scottish representation.

In the absence of UK delegation representations of Scottish opposition to Trident nuclear weapons, which are based in Scotland on the Clyde at Faslane, politicians and campaigners have travelled from Scotland to the UN headquarters in New York to lobby in favour of the vote.

Secretary of Scottish CND and parliamentary liaison for the Scottish section of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Janet Fenton, one of the organisers of the Scottish effort at UN headquarters in New York told CommonSpace that a majority of the world’s non-nuclear armed states could be expected to support a vote for the treaty.

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

She said: “Despite the threats, the cajoling and the undermining of the UN process undertaken by diplomats from the states that hold nuclear weapons of mass destruction or allow them to be based in their territory, the appetite for the ban continues to grow and the number of co-sponsors on the resolution is now 55, which is great.

“Many more have told ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) that they support the initiative and will vote Yes, so hopefully a very strong majority of States will be supporting the resolution.”

Nuclear armed states are applying diplomatic pressure on countries in their respective spheres of influence in order to get them to oppose the treaty under Resolution L.41.

Organisations backing the push for a ban in Scotland include the Radical Independence Campaign, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, Scottish Peace Network, Scrap Trident Coalition, Scotland's for Peace, The Scottish branch of WILPF, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, Stop The War, Scottish, the Scottish Green Party and Scottish Quakers.

The list of MSPs backing an open letter supporting the mission and a Yes vote includes: Fulton MacGregor MSP, Michael Russell MSP, Maree Todd MSP, John Mason MSP, Ben Macpherson MSP, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Ivan McKee MSP, Tom Arthur MSP, Christine Grahame MSP, Linda Fabiani MSP, Sandra White MSP, Graeme Dey MSP, Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Annabelle Ewing MSP, Willie Coffey MSP, James Dornan MSP, Christina McKelvie MSP, Rona Mackay MSP, Clare Haughey MSP, Ruth Maguire MSP, Andy Wightman MSP, Patrick Harvie MSP, Mark Ruskell MSP, John Finnie MSP, Alison Johnson MSP and Ross Greer MSP.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not banned by international treaty obligations. The UK Government, alongside the world’s eight other nuclear armed powers, typically cite support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) adopted at the UN in 1970.

Explainer: How can Trident be disarmed?

However, the NPT leaves ambiguous the legal status of Nuclear weapons, and has seen the number of nuclear armed powers increase since its adoption.

In July the Westminster Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system based in Scotland, which is expected to cost well in excess of £100bn over it lifetime. With the exception of Scottish Secretary and Tory MP David Mundell, Scottish MPs voted against renewal. The Scottish Parliament has also voted against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.

The UK foreign office has said it remains “committed to a world without nuclear weapons” and that this objective should be pursued through the NPT.

If the vote on a nuclear weapons ban treaty is successful, a conference will be convened to draft the treaty early in 2017.

Picture courtesy of Art L

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