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Hosting an international disarmament conference
in Scotland

One conference session was billed as ‘Hosting an International Disarmament Conference in Scotland’. This session was planned following a suggestion raised by Bruce Kent during the Bin the Bomb Roadshow.

Unfortunately, Bruce was unable to attend but he did submit a paper outlining his suggestion ‘to get on to the public and political agenda the idea that abolishing nuclear weapons as a result of serious negotiations is perfectly possible, given political will.’ His suggestion was that a well-planned and publicised Model Nuclear Disarmament Conference in Scotland, in the latter part of 2008 with some government input, would be a major breakthrough. He identified the draft abolition document launched by ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons).

Rebecca Johnson (Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy) addressed the workshop, pointing out Scotland’s special position as a country where nuclear weapons are deployed, despite opposition from the majority party in government and civic society. The world is aware of this unique position, and she pointed out the interest shown at the NPT Vienna Prep Com in the rejection of the Labour Party at our elections, and the UK foreign office objective to avoid any mention of Trident there. South Korea, South Africa and New Zealand explicitly condemned the renewal of Trident and Rebecca suggested we could learn from South Africa about disarming without losing status.

There is an obligation under the NPT for unilateral disarmament as well as multilateral disarmament. Scotland should apply for informal observer status as a first step to acquiring full observer status at the NPT. Of course there would be objections to this, but these would heighten the debate and Scotland’s position on it, which is particularly important given that the decision made on the 14th March does not represent a done deal.

CND plan an international conference linked to the ICAN and would like to see another Walk - from the Scottish parliament to Faslane to coincide with CND’s Easter demonstration at Aldermaston, as the world’s eyes will be on us at that time. Rebecca also mentioned the importance of building Mayors for Peace, through the NPT.

As the discussion was pursued by the wider group this was revisited, as well as discussing how to build other parties into NFLA’s and develop and consolidate these connections. Links with other organisations, and keeping G8 in focus were considered important, and the cultural aspect of working globally was also referenced, flagging up the value of hosting an international peace conference as the final note on a lively and stimulating workshop.

Janet Fenton

Nuclear Free Scotland Magazine - June 2007

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