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UK set to Join US Protest Against Historic Nuke Ban Negotiations

Concern over marginalisation of Scottish support for UN Treaty

As negotiations on a new international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons start today at the UN in New York, supported by an overwhelming majority of member states, the UK is likely to join US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, today a media briefing critical of the treaty plan.

Neither the US nor the UK will participate in the negotiations which are backed by over 120 UN states and which aim to develop a legally binding instrument for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, along the lines of the bans on chemical weapons and landmines. The reality of the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons  has been fundamental to the worldwide civil society pressure which led 123 of the world's nations to vote last October for the negotiations to begin.


“UN member states, supported by the International Red Cross will be negotiating a treaty that makes nuclear weapons illegal under international law  because of their unacceptable humanitarian impacts while the the UK government is expected to be outside protesting.”, said Richard Moyes speaking on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)[1].Richard is the Managing Director of Article 36, which successfully campaigned to ban landmines and cluster munitions. 

There is a particular concern that the UK's  boycott of the talks and its ongoing disparagement of the treaty leaves Scotland's rejection of nuclear weapons entirely unrepresented. Janet Fenton,Vice Chair of Scottish CND, attending the negotiations with a delegation from Scottish civil society organisations, said:

"Nuclear disarmament supporters across Scotland will be misrepresented again to the world. While our own Government, Parliament and all but one of our Members of the UK Parliament support the United Nations Ban Treaty, the UK Government is choosing to reject the invitation by United Nations to join the negotiations for a Global Ban Treaty and instead align themselves with Donald Trump." 

In reply to a formal request to the First Minister, a Scottish Government spokesperson wrote: “These weapons are indiscriminate and devastating in their impacts; their use would bring unspeakable humanitarian suffering and widespread environmental damage…Both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament have asked the UK Government to work with nuclear and non-nuclear states around the world to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.”

An international treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons is likely to be concluded in 2017, as soon as July.

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