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Scottish Response to Entry into Force of Nuclear Ban Treaty

ICAN in Scotland Campaigners in Scottish CND, Trident Ploughshares, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, MEDACT, Northern Friends Peace Board, UN House Scotland, Scottish WILPF, Mayors for Peace and Don't Bank on the Bomb Scotland working with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Media Briefing: 4th January 2021

Scottish Response to Entry into Force of Nuclear Ban Treaty on January 22nd

1. On 22nd January the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons1 (TPNW, aka “The Nuclear Ban Treaty”) will enter into force as international law. There will be celebrations of the event worldwide and in Scotland these will be many and varied, and will highlight the very special relevance2 of the Treaty for Scotland.

2. Events already for the 22nd January are being planned with flexibility around COVID restrictions. Current plans include: photo opportunities at the Scottish Parliament and at the Scotland Office with an advertising trailer publicising the Treaty; projections and large billboard adverts; special murals for the Clutha in Glasgow and the St John's Church at the west end in Edinburgh are in the pipeline; displays of banners and flags across the country; statements of support from high profile figures in civil, religious and cultural life; new songs and poems written to mark this landmark occasion will be published or streamed; Indylive and other broadcasters will be presenting radio interviews and live-streaming actions, and academic institutions will be hosting webinars on or around the date.

A special feature to allow mass participation while large gatherings are not possible is the call for people to come to their front doors, windows or gates at noon on the day to celebrate with bells, musical instruments, drums or creative percussion and with banners or flags to join in with many churches that will be ringing their bells at the same time.

3. Contacts and sources

Janet Fenton, ICAN Liaison in Scotland - 07795 594573

1 The TPNW prohibits the developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, otherwise acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, assisting other states with these prohibited activities, stationing, deployment or installation of nuclear weapons belonging to other states on a state party's territory.

The nine nuclear weapons states (including the UK) have not signed or ratified the TPNW but nevertheless it will affect their capabilities and, more importantly, as with other inhumane weapon prohibition treaties and conventions, it is already changing the global perception of what is acceptable.

This norm shift is significant in a world in which even authoritarian states guard their global reputations as they attempt to expand or protect their spheres of influence.

2 The Treaty's Entry into Force will provide a strong boost to Scottish public, parliamentarian and government opposition to the UK's nuclear weapons. It will also be a key factor should Scotland achieve independence, persist with that opposition, and ratify the TPNW. If Scotland signs the Treaty, this situation would be outlawed by the UN.

The Treaty specifically forbids a signed-up state to allow any stationing of nuclear weapons on its territory or under its jurisdiction and also insists that states in the Treaty will ensure the prompt removal of any nuclear weapons belonging to another state, with a clear timeline for this action. Scotland would then have the specific and unqualified backing of international law, (as well as huge international support) to have the weapons removed and to resist any pressure to give the UK a long lease of the Clyde nuclear weapon bases.

Without a feasible UK re-location option the remnant Westminster government would be faced with no credible alternative to disarmament. Aside from independence, the Scottish government already has devolved competence to support the TPNW. Responsibility for civil society's basic safety includes risk assessment of the nuclear warhead carriers on Scottish roads, and radiation leaks in the Gare Loch.

The government can educate citizens about the UN processes and health workers about radiation effects. The distinct Scottish legal system and police force can consider Scotland's responsibilities. Click here to download the Parliamentary One Pager on the TPNW.

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