Members of nonviolent direct action group Trident Ploughshares will celebrate the entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on 22 January with banner drops, billboards and projections on buildings, bell ringing on their doorsteps and in town centres across the UK while ICAN campaigners announce the good news across the globe.
In Edinburgh, messages will be projected on city centre buildings, and billboards proclaiming, :UN Outlaws nuclear weapons. Time fo a clean break” with a variation asking “What about Scotland? depicting Nicola Sturgeon alongside her words: “No ifs, no buts, no nuclear weapons on the Clyde, or anywhere.”
More messages will appear in other cities around the UK in the coming week. There will be banner drops and other Covid-19-compliant protests in Brighton, Bristol and elsewhere.
The Treaty was adopted at the United Nations in July 2017 with the support of 122 member states. With Honduras’ ratification on 24th October 2020 the TPNW acquired the 50 ratifications needed for it to enter into force and become international law after 90 days.
Trident Ploughshares protesters have repeatedly argued that any use of nuclear weapons would be illegal under international law, and also that that the possession and threat to use these indiscriminate weapons is both inhumane and illegal.
Angie Zelter, founded the campaign group more than two decades ago, has been arrested scores of times for acts of resistance to nuclear weapons and jailed several times for direct disarmament actions.
She said: “After decades of nuclear resisters sitting on cold wet roads, swimming freezing lochs, being dragged through courts and thrown into police cells and prisons, today we are welcoming the arrival of the nuclear weapons ban treaty. We have argued many times in court that nuclear weapons are immoral and illegal because any use of these terrible weapons would cause a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe.
“The entry into force of the ban treaty signals a massive change globally. Recognising that nuclear weapons are one of the greatest threats to humanity - the countries of the United Nations have outlawed them.
"Countries which everyday threaten to launch nuclear weapons are outside the norm of civilized society. The UK must now take heed. It should immediately take Trident off patrol, sign up to the Treaty, disarm the warheads and put the freed up resources into tackling the other existential crisis – climate change.”
Zelter and others representing Trident Ploughshares wrote to Boris Johnson in December 2020 calling on the UK Government to join the Treaty and disarm its nuclear weapons.
Jane Tallents, who has been arrested dozens of times for resisting UK nuclear weapons over four decades, said: “I’ve spent my life campaigning for the UK to get rid of these horrendous weapons.
"Finally we have a UN treaty that makes clear that nuclear weapons are illegal. The bomb doesn’t protect us from the real threats to our security, climate change and pandemics. Now the UK needs to get in step with the rest of the world, acknowledge the foolishness of continuing to threaten the world with mass destruction, join the Treaty and disarm.”
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Trident Ploughshares.