Parliamentary Briefing about Vienna Conference

December 3, 2014

ICAN UK held a briefing in Parliament last week with the All Party Group on Weapons and the Protection of Civilians (which is facilitated by ICAN partner Article 36). Chaired by Sir Nick Harvey MP, former Minister of State for the Armed Forces, there was cross-party attendance from Liberal Democrats, Labour, and the Scottish National Party (with the Green Party expressing strong support but unable to attend), and both Houses of Parliament represented. Rebecca Johnson and Thomas Nash spoke for ICAN.

Sir Nick Harvey MP welcomed the new international focus on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, saying that 1983 was the last time we felt the reality of the threat of nuclear weapons; the world needs reminding once again. ”International efforts to promote understanding of the consequences of nuclear weapons inevitably lead to greater pressure on those who argue they have the right to have them“. Dame Joan Ruddock MP said: ”I can see that the humanitarian initiative is the best hope we’ve got to create change”. Angus Robertson MP said the Vienna Conference is taken very seriously by countries around the world, and should be by the UK too.

Dr Rebecca Johnson described the development of humanitarian disarmament and the role a nuclear ban treaty could have in universalising non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament obligations, accelerating the elimination of existing nuclear arsenals. Highlighting the Acronym Institute’s latest briefing Preventable Threats she said: “Britain should support multilateral negotiations to ban nuclear weapons rather than wasting billions on replacing Trident. That way we could build our real security and reinforce the NPT”. Thomas Nash said, “there is evidence to show that nuclear-armed states are under more pressure on nuclear weapons than they have been in a long time. We have to capitalise on the space we’ve created. The Trident renewal debate would be very different in the context of ban negotiations”.

A recent government briefing on the Humanitarian Initiative  quotes both ICAN and RCW. It’s good to know they are reading our papers and engaging with our arguments.

At a Westminster debate about the US-UK Mutual Defence AgreementJeremy Corbyn MP quoted ICAN UK for reasons why the UK govt should go to Vienna.

We were pleased that it was a British MEP, Julie Ward, hosting ICAN’s successful briefing at the European Parliament earlier this week.

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