For a State of Peace

By Mike Small, published at Bella Caledonia on 20th January 2023

Last month Scottish campaigners marked the nuclear ban treaty’s second anniversary. The treaty marks an important step in exerting peace, and points to the role Scotland could play in creating that world.

On Sunday 22nd January disarmament campaigners in Scotland and across the globe will mark the second anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). States which join the TPNW are prohibited from having anything to do with nuclear weapons. As of today, the Treaty has been signed by 98 of the UN’s 193 states. Many more intend to join the Treaty, as shown by the fact that around 130 states regularly support it whenever it is on the agenda at the UN General Assembly.

What the Treaty does is to take existing international law on the conduct of war and applies its principles to the specific case of nuclear weapons. In this way it moves nuclear weapons into the same unspeakable category as chemical weapons.

Scottish musician and writer Pat Kane said:
“When we consider the mounting levels of existential risk humanity faces—climate, pandemic, out of control AI and of course nuclear war—our daily lives seem more and more absurd. Scottish independence has always had one exit door from this madness—which is to use our democratic sovereignty to remove nuclear weapons from our soil. One of our first acts as a nation-state should be to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and tie the future of Scotland to an ultimate moral position. We need a state of peace in this world—and a peaceful, non-nuclear Scottish state should be our own, irreducible contribution to that.”

ICAN Scottish liaison Janet Fenton said:
“At a time when the horrifying and ongoing conflict in Ukraine is further heightening the risk of nuclear war the TPNW is a practical expression of the worldwide popular wish to be rid of these weapons for ever. It has been wonderful to watch the Treaty grow in stature and credibility in spite of attempts by the nuclear armed states to stop it in its tracks. Rebecca Solnit says that new ideas often travel from the margins and the shadows to the centre, to the limelight where people – judges, presidents, prime ministers, international bodies – make decisions. She’s right. Critically the Treaty is changing the whole discourse around nuclear weapons and will continue to do so.”

Our neighbour Ireland has joined the Treaty. It was notable that the legislation to make the Treaty part of Irish law went through the two parliamentary houses on unanimous votes – it was a complete no-brainer. In the Scottish Parliament a majority of MSPs have signed the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge to support the TPNW – in line with Scottish rejection of these inhumane weapons and our consistent wish to have the UK’s nuclear arsenal removed from the Clyde.

The UK, along with the other nuclear weapons states, persists in its refusal to engage with the Treaty, and at the same time is in clear breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by increasing and modernising its nuclear weapons. We need a state of peace. Scotland can be that state.

Featured image shows UN Headquarters in New York. Credit: Seth Sheldon