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     Scottish CND      Magazine

What to do about illegality of Trident

Question: How do we get the message Trident is illegal, across to the public and politicians ?

Answer: Organise a Citizens’ Forum

In July 1996 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its historic decision that it could find no circumstances in which the threat or use of nuclear weapons would not violate humanitarian law. Applied to Britain this Opinion means that Trident, as currently armed, is illegal and must be included in negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

Having spent at least £36 thousand million on our strategic deterrent, it is no surprise that our Government is refusing to admit that the ICJ ruling requires major changes to British and NATO defence policies. To persuade our Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs to accept the judgement of the world’s highest court, anti-nuclear campaigners will have to increase the awareness of public and politicians about the significance of the ICJ ruling and demand that Britain stops breaking international humanitarian law.

Last year the Canadian government, faced with the ICJ ruling, decided to review the issues of nuclear weaponry and its membership of NATO, and invited submissions from concerned organisations. In response Project Ploughshares set up Roundtable discussions in 18 cities across the country. Attended by community leaders, clergy and academics, these Citizens’ Forums gave overwhelming support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention to supersede Canada’s outmoded commitment to a nuclear-armed NATO.

In a bid to repeat the Canadian consultations in Britain the World Court Project (WCP) is encouraging local groups to set up their own Citizens’ Forum to discuss the implications of the ICJ decision. Three have already taken place and a further 16 are in the planning stage. To assist organisers WCP has produced an Information Package which informs and encourages Forum members to make up their own minds about the issues.

Forum members are invited to take part as responsible people interested in public affairs but not belonging to formal peace groups, and they attend as individuals rather than as delegates of any organisation to which they may belong. Forum facilitators aim to achieve consensus reports which will be combined and presented to the Government. Why not suggest to your church Peace and Justice group, local political party or trade union branch that they set up a Citizen’s Forum, and help get the message across ? For copies of the Information Package or other assistance contact me on 0131 449 3695.

Alan Wilkie

Scottish CND      Magazine