Report to AGM 2013

2012, the Olympic Year, was the year “Everyone suddenly burst our singing”
2013 was more down-to-earth. The world was changing. It became evident that the Arab Spring would be prolonged and often painful. 2013 saw the culmination of ‘Syria’. Violent civil strife denoted the failure of governance in Africa and made it harder to feel satisfaction with the progress towards the MDGs. Afghanistan and Somalia were hardly jewels in the Security Council’s Crown.
The world – and New World ! – was changing. Our governments were getting the message that discussing mutual problems often found solutions more readily than did military intervention. And as the Security Council lost its way, so the General Assembly grew in stature – and the BRIC nations and the Non-Aligned were seen to behave as responsibly as those from the West

The world was changing and we strove to adapt constructively.
The General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty which, when it has been ratified by 50 countries and becomes International Law, will prevent the export of weapons when there is danger of increasing conflict or tension or when the recipient has a poor record of upholding human rights. It cannot be stated too often that the majority of those killed in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East are killed by imported weapons. Civil society is able to lobby the General Assembly and we strove to encourage the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty. We were enormously encouraged by – and very grateful for – the support of our six MPs (six includes Graeme Morrice, MP for Livingston), each of whom badgered our Government who was indeed active in the General Assembly. Lest you doubt, an appended letter [see Annex] from Alistair Burt, the FCO Minister, demonstrates everyone’s sincerity.
It was unbelievable that after working diligently to establish the Arms Trade Treaty in the General Assembly, our Government permitted an Arms Fair to be held in London’s docklands in which countries with appalling human rights records were able to tout for weapons and business. We are grateful to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Caroline Lucas MP for their efforts to prevent the Arms Fair. Around Edinburgh we understand there to be seven commercial organisations who have applied for Arms Export Licences in the recent past. We have brought the seriousness of the controlling regulations to their notice. CAAT tells us that none of the seven has advertised at the last two Graduate Careers Fairs of Edinburgh University. UNAE Youth’s outstanding and well-publicised support for the Arms Trade Treaty will surely have been an enormous factor in deterring the offering of weapons as a career.

If civil society can observe and lobby the General Assembly we have to be there. We are sincerely grateful to Dr. Gari Donn and to Malcolm Spaven for going to New York as UNA delegates and attending 2013’s General Assembly discussions of disarmament. Yesterday you may have heard Gari at the Scottish Parliament telling of how they heard the President of Iran. It wasn’t all good news. Translation at ‘their’ part of the UN had to be improved and they received less support from WFUNA than you might have expected. More importantly, whereas the Nuclear Powers insist on the need for step-by-step nuclear disarmament – which, as we have stated in previous reports, has indeed led to the greatest disarmament in world history – most of the rest of the world is openly scornful and the UN’s Conference for Disarmament has ceased to make progress.

The Royal Mail has been sold-off but we are still a Post Office.
We exchange information electronically with UNAs and other supporters in Germany, Iran, Israel, Palestine, the Sudan, Turkey, the US and the Russian and US Consulates and Embassies. This includes (re-) distributing articles from the Iran Review. UNA-Iran has sent our invitation to visit Edinburgh to the Iranian Foreign Minister – though we do not expect a quick reply.

November in the Scottish Parliament.
Yesterday, thanks to the sponsorship of Bill Kidd MSP., Convenor of the Cross Party Group for Nuclear Disarmament, we – and very notably, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, were able to consider our adaptation to the changing world.
On November 20th, thanks again to the sponsorship of Bill Kidd MSP. We are participating in an evening event
Building Trust Between Nations
that is even more ambitious.
The event starts at 6pm (Please get to Parliament at 5:30pm to make it easy for yourself) and Ambassador Alexander Kramenko will describe the Russian views on global problems. HE Ambassador Witold Sobkow will rethink these from Poland’s perspective – and Poland, of course, has suffered occupation. There will be Round Table Discussions enabling everyone to participate. Think about it. Should we be able to begin to generate common views on European and Russian security then presumably we could all reduce our military expenditure and certainly Russia and NATO (us!) wouldn’t have to aim tactical nuclear bombs at each other.

We are striving to adapt constructively

Alec Gaines
2013 Report of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Working Group

Mark Lazarowicz MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Annex

8 May, 2013
Dear Mark,
Thank you for your letter of 4 April concerning the Fissile Material Cut-Off and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaties.

We were grateful for your constituent’s comments regarding the Arms Trade Treaty. As the UN Secretary-General said, “The adoption of this Treaty demonstrates the great things that can be achieved when governments and civil society work together through the United Nations.”

We worked closely with civil society, industry and governments to ensure our proposals were feasible and practical. The Treaty needed to strike a balance between effective provisions and global support, and it has struck that balance. We have achieved much more than many thought possible and have created a rigorous basis from which to move forward.

Now we start a new task, our minds have already turned to what needs to happen next to bring the Treaty into force. Only when exporters and importers implement its provisions with care and vigour will it start to bring the benefits in safety, security and prosperity needed by so many.
Turning to the other two treaties you highlight, the Government wants to see the start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). The CD represents the best option we have for negotiations, with all the relevant states as members. However, we are all aware of the growing frustration of the international community at the CD’s inertia; as long as it remains inactive, pressure to look for alternatives will continue to grow. We continue to press Pakistan to end their block on the start of negotiations in Geneva and we are supportive of all attempts to make progress towards this end.

For example, we supported the UN General Assembly resolution to create the FMCT Group of Government Experts (GGE) and expect to take part in its deliberations. The aforementioned resolution enshrined the CD as the sole negotiating forum for an FMCT, with the GGE existing to explore the issues in advance of the start of negotiations. We hope that the GGE will help us to better understand the positions of the states involved and the parameters for agreement.

The UK has long been a supporter of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), observing a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing since 1991 and being the first country, along with France, to sign and ratify the treaty in 1996 and 1998 respectively. As you correctly highlight, entry into force depends on the treaty’s ratification by the eight remaining Annex 2 countries. Through the G8 and the EU, the UK demarches annually all those states who have not signed or ratified the CTBT, including outstanding Annex 2 countries. Furthermore, in our bilateral exchanges with these countries, we press the matter of early entry into force and offer our support in assisting Annex 2 countries to make the case domestically for ratification.

The UK has been at the forefront of efforts to build up all elements of the verification regime, providing technical experts in seismology and on-site inspection techniques to assist the CTBT organisation in its work. The effectiveness of the Treaty’s verification regime is likely to be a key issue if and when the US Senate is asked to give its advice and consent to ratification, hence the importance and effort we place on developing the Organisation’s capabilities in this regard.

The Government continues to see the negotiation of an FMCT, and the entry into force of the CTBT, as key steps in achieving its long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Yours ever,
Alistair Burt