Monday, 11 December 2017

Nobel Peace Prize winners ICAN show way forward for multilateral nuclear disarmament

Letter sent to The Times:
I find it hard to understand why you did not find room on the 34 pages you devoted to news on Monday (Dec 10) to the ceremony in Oslo awarding the  2017 Nobel Peace Prize ( to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), despite having reported the award when it was originally announced two months ago (Oct 6,

In that report, you noted that the Nobel peace prize award [to ICAN) has “so far been shunned by Britain and the other atomic weapon powers.” Sadly, this continued at the ceremony itself, when the UK declined to send its  Ambassador to Norway or its International disarmament ambassador, based in Geneva, to the ceremony, despite ICAN having a very active British chapter.
This calculated snub is even more inexplicable, as the nuclear weapons ban treaty adopted by the United Nations in July, for which ICAN was the key driving force  - and was signed by 122 non-nuclear weapons countries- is a multilateral treaty advocating  collective nuclear disarmament, which is British Government policy.
Amongst ICAN's supporters in Britain are Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR, an organisation of about 750 natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, and other professionals in related areas) and the Medical Campaign  Against Nuclear Weapons (Medact), the UK chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which published key analysis of the  humanitarian and ecological impact of the use of nuclear weapons earlier this year (A Safer World;
Three years ago this week on behalf of Medact (and as part of an ICAN-UK delegation), I attended the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons (, organized by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, which immediately followed a two day international meeting organized by ICAN in the Austrian capital on how to achieve a nuclear weapons ban.
Both conferences provided the foundation for the international nuclear weapons ban treaty.
Although the US Administration (under President Obama, who himself won the Nobel Peace Prize for his own nuclear disarmament initiatives)  did send its disarmament ambassador to the inter-governmental event in Vienna, the UK boycotted it.
It is about time the Foreign Office began to implement its oft-stated commitment to multilateral nuclear disarmament, to which it currently pays lip service, and not ignore or snub international meetings established under the auspices of the United Nations and allies such as Austria, to find collegiate ways to implement  British nuclear disarmament policy.

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