Support the Ban Treaty 22 Jan:Call on UK to sign up; lobby your MP; Ring bells!

On the 22nd of January the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under a UN Treaty for the first time.

Now let’s spread the word and push the UK government to sign up to the treaty. Listed below are some of the online events that will be taking place over the next ten days. 

If you can just do one thing, sign the petition calling on the UK to sign and ratify the treaty. This takes less than 1 minute. 

If you have a bit more time lobby your MP (virtually) to sign the Early Day Motion calling on the UK to sign the treaty. (Many, but not all Scottish MPs have signed the EDM already. You can find out here if your MP has signed.

Learn More about the TPNW

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ Legal and Historic Importance. 
CND and guest speakers. 
Saturday 16 January. 5pm.

This is an opportunity to learn about the significance of the treaty so that you will have the information you need to be an advocate for it.

  • Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University.
  • John Burroughs, Director of the United Nations Office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA).

Ring Bells to Announce the EIF!
Some Churches around the UK will be ringing bells on 22nd January  to announce the good news that nuclear weapons are banned! You can help by inviting your church or faith community to ring bells.

Peace & Justice patron Bishop John Armes has invited Episcopal churches in the Edinburgh area to do this where possible given the Covid situation. Some churches will ring hand bells out on the street.

Get outside your own house and ring bells or bang on pots and pans at 12noon on 22nd of January to mark the occasion to let people on your street know about this historic event.

Get involved with ongoing local campaigning for nuclear disarmament. Edinburgh CND Meeting. Tuesday 13th January at 6pm. Click here to join by Zoom. On the agenda will be events in the week leading up to 22nd January.

Support Peace & Justice in the New year!
Peace & Justice is a partner in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons that led the effort to create the TPNW and bring about this historic moment. It’s just part of the work we do in Scotland to promote disarmament and a culture of peace. 

If you’re not already a supporter why not make a New Years resolution to support Peace & Justice throughout 2021? Click here to find out how to become a supporter and help us build a world without weapons and war. 

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Leave a gift in your will

Each of us leaves our mark on the world – through our relationships with other people and through our beliefs and ideas. Leaving a gift in your will to the Peace & Justice Centre is one way to continue to help future generations work towards a more peaceful and just Scotland after you are gone.

The Peace & Justice Centre has been working as a catalyst for a more peaceful and just Scotland for 40 years. We are creating a culture of peace through our PeaceBuilders Programme in Primary Schools; engaging local communities and promoting disarmament through our Peace Cranes project; and raising awareness of alternatives to war with our Opposing War Memorial project. We provide volunteer opportunities for young people to learn skills for peace activism, organise events that challenge militarism and, when the COVID crisis has passed, we’ll continue to provide a meeting space and other support for peace and justice campaigners in Edinburgh.

Legacies have been vital for enabling our core work, especially over the past 5 years, covering about half of our core costs over this period. While we regularly raise funds through grants from charitable trusts, and have been awarded a major grant to support our core work for 2021, further legacies can help ensure our work to promote peace, justice and disarmament over the long term.

A gift to us in your will would help the next generation develop the skills, knowledge and passion for a more peaceful and just Scotland. Alternatively, you might want your legacy to support a particular area of our work – peacebuilding in schools for example – and you can find details of our current projects on our website here: 

How to leave a gift in your will

If you would like to change your will to include a gift to the Centre, you should make an appointment with your solicitor. There is a simple form you can fill in, called a codicil, to make a small change. We can provide you with a codicil to fill in.

There are two main types of legacy you can leave to the charity:

  1. A pecuniary legacy: this is a set amount of money left to a person or charity.
  2. A residuary legacy: this is the residual amount from the deceased person’s estate after all the pecuniary amounts, taxes and debts have been paid.

If you’d like to discuss leaving a gift in your will to us, please give our Coordinator Brian Larkin a ring on 07584 492257 or email him.

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PeaceBuilders Videos: A Creative Response to supporting schools during COVID


By Fiona Oliver-Larkin, Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre’s PeaceBuilders Programme Coordinator

As the coordinator of a team of people who usually work in-person in primary schools all across Edinburgh, when lockdown was announced I was full of questions; questions like when will the schools go back? What is it going to be like when they do? When will we as a team get back into schools? What can we do to help out now?

A bit of context: PeaceBuilders are a team of facilitators who run courses in primary schools in Scotland aimed at supporting class groups to build a culture of peace and give them some tools for conflict resolution.

Since 2015 we have worked with more than 50 class groups in primary Schools across Edinburgh – and in one school in Glasgow . Based on principles of nonviolence, we work through dynamic activities, like cooperative games, circus skills and drama coupled with circle time reflection, to support the Health and Wellbeing aspects of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. 

We have seen the positive impact that the work we do can have, on self esteem, cooperation, teamwork and empathy. We have had really positive feedback from students, teachers and parents.

And now, since March, we have been in a position where we don’t know when we will be able to return to schools.  

So I started calling up schools. I wanted to get a picture of the best way PeaceBuilders could help out once schools went back and if there was anything we could do now to help. 

One thing I found that was really helpful was this resource from Peacemakers in Birmingham. It’s a brilliant resource from a dedicated and diverse team of specialists. I highly recommend it. Needless to say I sent it around to all the schools we have worked with. 

I found that schools were full of the same questions as me.  Speaking to one headteacher we have worked with closely, I suggested we could try running our regular course over zoom. But the problem was, she explained, that post-lockdown, their timetables would be changing all the time, and it might not be possible for classes to make a weekly commitment. She suggested we make a series of films, so that classes could access the sessions as and when it suited.

Luckily, one of the PeaceBuilders facilitators is also a fim-maker, and two of the team members are flatmates, so even with COVID restrictions, they will be able to create the films. 

Teachers across Scotland will be able to use these films to help children talk about their experience of the pandemic and lockdown, as well as providing a full PeaceBuilders course that can be accessed at any time, and into the future. Once we are able to get back into schools, we’ll be able to offer a follow up programme of training for both teachers and kids in Restorative Practice, Nonviolent Communication and Peer Mediation.


For a detailed course description of our regular PeaceBuilders Cooperative Games Course please visit:

Here is the crowdfunder we set up to help make this happen. Anyone who wants to donate can visit:

Or for more information contact Fiona: peacebuilders[at]


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SupportAhmed Al-Babati: Conscientious Objector to UK / Saudi War on Yemen

We salute Lance Corporal Ahmed Al-Babati who was arrested by Military Police outside Downing Street on Monday after taking part in a protest against Britain’s involvement in the war in Yemen. 

Photo Ahmed protesting at MOD. Credit: Alex Tiffin @RespectIsVital

Al-Babati is refusing to continue to serve in the army as long as Britain continues to send arms and provide military support to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen. We join with Peace Pledge Union, Veterans for Peace and others in calling for Al-Babati’s release and invite readers to sign this petition calling on the Ministry of Defense not to take disciplinary action against Al-Babati’s stand of conscience. 

Show your support. You can write to him: LCpl Al-Babati 14th Signal Regiment, Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy, Haverfordwest, SA62 6NN 

The right to conscientious objection is a human right recognised by the United Nations.and should extend to protecting the rights of military personell to refuse to be complicit with war crimes. The Peace & Justice Centre is leading an effort to create an “Opposing War” memorial to conscientious objectors in Edinburgh. The memorial is not only about COs of the past but about those of the present. Al-Babati stands out among COs as the first that we know of to stand up against UK complicity in the Saudi war on Yemen. Read more about the Opposing War Memorial here

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen since March 2015. Saudi forces have intentionally targetted and killed more than 12,000 civilians there with direct support from UK personell., according to ACLED, the Armed Conflict Locations and Events Data project. 

In July the UK government announced the resumption of arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite its commitments under the Arms Trade Treaty not to provide weapons to regimes where they are likely to be used to commit human rights abuses. According to Campaign Against Arms Trade, since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £5.3 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones). 

Under UK arms export law military equipment should not be granted if there is a clear risk” that a weapon “might” be used in “serious violations” of international humanitarian law. Saudi forces in Yemen have been regularly accused of serious breaches of IHL. The UK government is ‘tracking’ over 366 possible violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

The government has confirmed that UK built and licensed Tornado and Typhoon aircraft from the Royal Saudi Air Force have been deployed on combat missions in the Yemen campaign. The UK sold 120 BAE produced Tornado jets as part of the Al Yamamah deal signed in 1985. In 2013, a £1.5bn contract was agreed for Tornado aircraft upgrades and weapons. A deal for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets was confirmed in 2007. 

In a parliamentary answer given in October 2016, the then Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed  UK missiles ad been used by Saudi forces in Yemen including Paveway IV bombs.  In 2014 Raytheon announced its first international contract for Paveway IV bombs, the deal was estimated to be worth around £150 million. Raytheon manufacture Paveway bombs at their factory in Glenrothes in Scotland. Yemen-based Mwatana for Human Rights linked Paveway IV bombs to attacks on civilian targets.

With direct UK support the Saudi war on Yemen has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today, with a major cholera epidemic and more than 20 million people at risk of starvation. For all these reasons Ahmed al-Babati is right to refuse to refuse to serve as long as Britain continues to support the Saudi war on Yemen.  

#YemenCantWait #StopArmingSaudi #JusticeforAhmed

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 75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Peace Cranes Events Review

You-Ri Yamanaka in The Mistake

The Mistake, The Priest’s Tale, The Doctor’s Tale

Review by Annie Mae Milburn

This month marks 75 years since the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan on the 6th and 9th of August 1945. To mark the respective anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two recent plays by Michael Mears have beautifully brought to life survivor accounts from each city, exploring the real depth of human suffering caused by the bombings. Recorded at Sands Films studio in London, the plays are now available to view online for free with the option to give a donation to support the performers, venue and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Performed on August 6th, The Priest’s Tale explores the story of a German Jesuit priest living in Hiroshima and his experience of the bombing and its subsequent repercussions. An adaptation of one of the survivor accounts in John Hersey’s book Hiroshima, Michael Mears gives an excellent and heartfelt portrayal of Father Wilhelm, accompanied with live violin music by Chihiro Ono.

Following this on August 9th was a production of The Doctor’s Tale, adapted from the book Nagasaki 1945 by Tatsuichiro Akizuki. Performed by Leo Ashizawa with support from Michael Mears and again music from Chihiro Ono, the play follows Akizuki’s experience working in a small hospital when the bomb hit Nagasaki and trying to carry out his duty of care during the aftermath with a small team and extremely limited supplies. 

The simple staging of these two plays emphasizes the narrative itself, allowing the audience to truly focus on the characters at hand and engage with the weight of their trauma. Chihiro Ono’s violin interludes add a beautiful musical backdrop, interspersing the story and periodically allowing the viewer a moment of melancholy pause to sit with and digest the complexity and struggle of the narrative. Mears succeeds in bringing to life the experience of everyday citizens in the face of such unimaginable horror, forcing us to reckon with the awful human cost of the bombings.

Alongside the unspeakable tragedy that forms the basis of both performances, however, is a hopeful note in how the characters and their communities organise themselves after the bomb hits to try and help in any way that they can. Dealing not only with the immediate aftermath of the bombings but also Japan’s subsequent surrender, ending the war, and the burgeoning mystery of radiation sickness, the performances are effective at conveying the full gravity of the attacks and their enduring consequences. 

As part of the Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre’s Peace Cranes project, The Mistake is a new play chronicling several people – ‘the survivor, the scientist and the soldier’ – and their experience with the bombing of Hiroshima. Directed by Jatinda Vermer and performed by Michael Mears and You-Ri Yamanaka, the play uses testimonies and eye witness accounts to entwine the stories of these three characters and their different roles in the tragedy. 

Unfortunately delayed due to COVID-19, The Mistake is now planned to open in August 2021 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. However, on August 22nd as part of Just Festival’s 2020 programme, an online event provided a sneak preview of the play through a video collage of rehearsal film and images. The video was followed by a post-show Q&A session featuring Michael Mears, You-Ri Yamanaka and Peace Cranes exhibition curator Iliyana Nedkova. Watch the entire event on the Just Festival YouTube channel here. 

Moving away from the single survivor story format of The Priest’s Tale and The Doctor’s Tale, The Mistake embraces multiple character perspectives to give a broader flavour of the different experiences and political undertones surrounding the terrible events in Hiroshima. 

The video montage provided an introduction to each of the characters: Shigeko Nomura, a Japanese woman living in Hiroshima during the war, Leo Szilard, a physicist integral to the discovery of nuclear chain reaction and the subsequent commencement of the Manhattan Project, and the American pilot tasked with dropping the bomb, Paul Tibbets. 

The addition of the Q&A session allowed Mears to go into detail about his thought processes and research behind the script, setting up an excellent background for the play. Some may be unfamiliar with less well-known actors involved in the making and deployment of the bomb, such as Leo Szilard, so the event also provided a deeper discussion of the historical context surrounding Hiroshima. 

Whilst Mears himself has not visited Hiroshima, Yamanaka discussed her first trip to the city earlier this year and how it affected her. She provided poignant insight by describing her thoughts as she disembarked the train and walked around the city, marveling at the extent of what has been rebuilt in only 75 years. 

The session ends on a thoughtful note as Nedkova queries how contemporary art and theatre might be able to contribute to uncovering more about the cultural legacy of Hiroshima and the bombing. This prompts a thoughtful discussion about the relative merits of theatre versus television and film, and whether or not reaching as many people as possible is really the ultimate true measure of success. 

As the future of in-person theatre remains somewhat uncertain for the time being, these three events have creatively shown how projects can adapt and evolve with the help of technology. Here’s hoping that The Mistake will be able to reach its intended audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and beyond next year. 

Click here to Watch The Priest’s Tale on Vimeo. 

Click here to watch The Doctor’s Tale on Vimeo, anytime.

Click here to watch The Mistake event on Just Festival’s YouTube channel.

Annie Mae Milburn is a graduate on a work placement with the P&J and is currently Editor of Peace & Justice News.

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ICAN Paris Forum – The Light in Dark Times

Over 200 participants, including P&J intern and University of Edinburgh law student Anna Karisto travelled to Paris for the ICAN Paris Campaigners Forum.  Anna writes: 

The ICAN Paris Forum started with a talk by activist and Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow. She shared both her personal experience of witnessing the horrors of an atomic bomb and the commitment she has made to advocating for a world free of nuclear weapons.

In August, it will be 75 years since the two nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed an estimate of 214 000 people by the end of the year. As Thurlow herself puts it, all of these people had a name, and everyone of them was loved by someone.

Hiroshima survivor and activist Setsuko Thurlow showed a banner with the names of her 350 schoolmates and teachers, who were killed by the atomic bomb. All of them had a name and every one of them was loved by someone.

In the aftermath of the bombing, the survivors had to deal with the horror caused by severe injuries, including burns, and the detrimental impacts of ionizing radiation, which caused radiation poisoning. Until today, there are high rates of various cancers among the survivors.

The survivors of the 1945 atomic bombs, however, are not the only ones bearing the detrimental consequences of the radiation; uranium mining, transport of radioactive materials, and nuclear waste dumping has harmed several communities. This is well known by indigenous community organiser, Leona Morgan, who has been fighting nuclear colonialism in the US since 2007. She is from the Navajo nation, and her people are still dealing with the enviromental and health consequences of contaminated land and water.

Indigenous communty organiser Leona Morgan encourages us to support front-line communities.

Unfortunately, the detrimental impacts caused by nuclear weapons are not history. Nuclear disarmament requires different generations to work together. Setsuko Thurlow encourages us to think what it means to live in the nuclear age and stresses that nuclear weapons are a global issue. We need to support front-line communities and make sure that the debate about nuclear weapons happens in every parliament.

Anna Karisto is taking a lead role in organising a symposium at the University of Edinburgh on “The Illegality and Impacts of Nuclear Weapons” on 19 March from 5:30 – 8pm. Find more information on the symposium and register here.

Anna’s travel to the Paris Forum was part of her training as P&J Nuclear Disarmament intern. Can you make a donation to help cover the cost of sending her? It’s a great way to invest in future disarmament campaigning. Click Here to donate and be sure to indicate “Nuclear Disarmament Intern” in the comment. 

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Peace & Justice Centre Joins XR Peace coalition

The Peace & Justice Centre has joined Extinction Rebellion Peace, a coalition of peace groups that is taking part in the nonviolent global rebellion to address the urgency of the climate crisis.

We invite our members and supporters to consider joining XR Peace outside the MoD on and after 7 October. 

XR Peace will raise awareness of how transforming militarism will be a key part of averting climate catastrophe and demand the resources currently going to the military be used to address the threat of climate change  If you cannot go to London there are other ways to support.

Extinction Rebellion  (XR) is calling on government to act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

XR Peace will occupy the road outside the Ministry of Defense on 7 October and invite people to take part starting at 10am. Anyone considering attending is encouraged to attend a Nonviolent Direct Action training (click here for training in Edinburgh Sunday 29 Sept ). Visit XR Scotland Facebook page to find out where there are trainings. There are coaches leaving from Edinburgh on Sunday 6 October.

There will be workshops, teach-ins and exhibitions making the links between nuclear weapons, militarism and the climate emergency. This blockade is expected to last up to two weeks 7th October – 18th October. You can come for any part of that time. Come prepared to camp out.

To find out more about XR Peace and how to get involved visit the XR Peace website.

If you can’t get to London in October there are other ways to help. One way is to provide accommodation on the night of Saturday 5 October to rebels on their way to London. If you can provide accomodation please fill in the accommodation form.

Climate Crisis: The Facts

The IPCC report last year that announced that humanity has just 12 years (now 11 years) to act to prevent a climate catastrophe and the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Biodiversity report earlier this year, which concluded that human activity is driving mass extinction, were wake up calls that must not be ignored.

At 1.5C the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower than at 2C. Food scarcity would be less of a problem and hundreds of millions fewer people, particularly in poor countries, would be at risk of climate-related poverty. At 2C extremely hot days, such as those experienced in the northern hemisphere would become more severe and common, increasing heat-related deaths and causing more forest fires. Forest fires in turn represent one of the dangerous feedback loops, releasing massive amounts of carbon previously trapped in the trees into the atmosphere. Insects, vital for pollination of crops, and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat at 2C compared with 1.5C. Corals would be 99% lost at the higher of the two temperatures, but more than 10% have a chance of surviving if the lower target is reached. (Guardian, 8 Oct 2018)

Sea-level rise would affect 10 million more people by 2100 if the half-degree extra warming brought a forecast 10cm additional pressure on coastlines. The number affected would increase substantially in the following centuries due to locked-in ice melt.

IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson siad: “The overwhelming evidence ..presents an ominous picture.” “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” However, “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

Just this week another IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate  finding that the Arctic will be ice free in summer every third year if temperatures rise 2 Degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

While sea level has risen globally by around 15 cm during the 20th century, it is currently rising more than twice as fast – 3.6 mm per year – and accelerating. Sea level will continue to rise for centuries. It could reach around 30-60 cm by 2100 even if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply reduced and global warming is limited to well below 2°C, but around 60-110 cm if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly.

“The ocean and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet – play a critical role for life on Earth. A total of 670 million people in high mountain regions and 680 million people in low-lying coastal zones depend directly on these systems. Four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people.” Inevitably millions of people will be forced to leave their homes.

The IPCC report concludes: “We will only be able to keep global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels if we effect unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society, including energy, land and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure as well as industry.”

Climate Change and Militarism

Militarism and the military-industrial-complex are at the heart of the exploitative, carbon-intensive system that’s driving climate change. Military power backs up the political power and corporate self-interests that depend on fossil fuels at the same time that it consumes vast amounts of oil. These forces are resisting the changes needed to address the climate crisis.

Many 21st Century conflicts are about controlling access to dwindling oil supplies. About 6% of the global carbon footprint results from military-related activity. The US military alone is the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.

Like the climate emergency the ever present danger of nuclear war poses an equal existential threat to the future of  humanity. The use of just 100 of the thousands of nuclear weapons still deployed globally would lead to nuuclear winter and a global famine that scientists say could result in the death of 2 Billion people.

Rising temperatures are already having deleterious effects on the most marginalized communities from sub-Saharan Africa to rural India, to the Pacific Islands, with drought and extreme weather a major factor driving the refugee crisis. According to the World Bank Latin America could see over 10 million climate refugees by 2050. Large numbers of climate refugees are leaving Guatamala, Honduras and El Salvador where there is widespread crop failure and the United States is sending armed forces to the border and turning these despearate people back.  This is one example of how industrial nations are increasingly responding with militarized solutions, sending migrants back to no hope situations.

At the same time, climate change is fueling conflict. Many analysts have pointed to the climate induced drought that was a principle cause of the disastrous civil war in Syria. Militarized societies like the US tend to see military solutions to crises and, as the climate crisis deepens, which it certainly will, we can expect more armed conflicts if we do not transform our ways of thinking.

The Need for Nonviolent Direct Action 

With temperature rise already 1.1 Degree about pre-industrial levels, and increasing more rapidly now than ever, urgent action is needed. And, we know that historically nonviolent direct action is effective in getting attention of entrenched powers and bringing about systemic change. Anyone who doubts that might want to visit Swarthmore’s Global Nonviolent Action Database which presents case studies of hundreds of successful nonviolent campaigns. Similarly social scientists Harvard University Professor Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan (Why Civil Resistance Works) found that “between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts.”  Without such action as a key component of any social movement rarely do such radical changes take place.

The Peace & Justice Centre has among its core values nonviolence and ecological sustainability. One of our guiding principles is to embody our values: As Gandhi said:  “Become the change you want to be”.  We have always provided analysis and resources on the methods of nonviolence as a means for achieving just solutions to social and environmental injustices. With marginalized people and future generations, and the earth’s diverse lifeforms most effected, the climate crisis presents a clear requirement to act for ecological sustainability and intergenerational and global justice.

Getting to net zero by 2025 will require radical change, including a shift away from war as a means of resolving conflicts. To avert climate catastrophe we have to transform the war machine that props up the fossil fuel industry. We urge our members and followers to consider joining XR Peace outside the MoD to demand the government use the resources currently going to the military to address the threat of climate change.

Please share the XR Peace event on Facebook:

If you can’t get to London in October there are other ways to help. One way is to provide accommodation on the night of Saturday 5 October to rebels on their way to board coaches heading to London on the following Sunday. If you can provide accomodation Please fill in the accommodation form.


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Ten great social justice-inspired shows to see at the Edinburgh Fringe this year

Politics remains a hot topic for shows and exhibitions at the Edinburgh fringe. Peace and justice, climate change, refugee and migrant rights – are all covered in a multitude of formats at this year’s festival. Watching a play, looking at art, or hearing an unexpected conversation are great ways to get a new perspective on social justice issues. So here for your perusal are some recommendations by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Festival for things you might enjoy at the festival this month

Dream of a King (solo show)

Written and performed by Christopher Rajah, ‘Dream of a King’ is set in a Tennessee motel room on 4th April 1968, the night Martin Luther King was murdered. A solo show that explores the extraordinary man behind the legend



Remembering Hiroshima with a Japanese Tea Ceremony (event)

On August 6,  Hiroshima day, Urasenke Tea Master Mio Shudo will lead a Japanese tea ceremony. The Way of Tea is a traditional living art form originating in 16th-century Japan. The principles are: harmony, respect, purity and tranquility.


Origami Peace Cranes Workshop and Scottish Resistance to World War 1 exhibition at the Edinburgh Quaker meeting House (workshop and exhibition)

We are running several Origami Cranes workshops during the festival, including on Hiroshima Day itself, at the Edinburgh Quaker Meeting House on the 5, 6, 9 and 10 August. Ancient Japanese legend promises anyone who makes 1000 cranes will be granted a wish from the gods. Help us make 140,000 cranes to wish for peace and disarmament. There will also be a chance to make a small notebook using a Japanese stab binding technique.

While you there, pop along to the Scottish resistance to WW1 exhibition – Exhibition of panels showing the variety of experiences endured by Conscientious Objectors to World War One.

Edinburgh’s Slavery Legacy (talk)

Conversation with Graham Campbell, Sir Geoff Palmer and Lisa Williams

Find out the debt Edinburgh owes to the transatlantic slave trade.

Great choice of theatre by refugees living in Scotland (plays)

There are a number of really interesting-looking plays written and performed by refugees at this year’s festival including:

  • Trojans, performed by Syrian refugees living in Glasgow Play performed by Syrian refugees living in Glasgow
  • Where are you really from? Community theatre that explores integration and the asylum process from the perspective of those with direct experience as well as celebrates the contributions of asylum seekers and refugees to Scottish communities.
  • Where to Belong? Victor Esses is Jewish-Lebanese, Brazilian and gay. In 1975, Victor’s mother flees Lebanon as a refugee of the civil war. In 2017, Victor visits Lebanon for the first time. In 2018, amidst the elections that will see Brazil choose a far-right president, he travels from London to São Paulo to show his partner his childhood city. Where to Belong is the tender, moving story of these journeys

The Just Festival has some really interesting stuff on again this year.

Continuing the contribution from refugees in Scotland, ‘From Syria to Scotland’ looks at the transition Scottish Syrians have had to make from their own culture to living in Scotland. How do they deal with the challenge of building a new life in a very different country?

Akala – In Conversation – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire: Spoken word, music (race & social class)

One of the most important voices in Britain, Akala is a BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur. Natives is the recently published memoir and already a Sunday Times bestseller.

Before the Revolution

From Egypt to Edinburgh, director and writer Ahmed El Attar looks at the moment before Mubarak was overthrown. Expressing a sense of stagnation – but also potential – through a static cast surrounded by an ‘audio-visual environment’, Before was censored in its home country and examines one of the key moments in contemporary politics.


Darren McGarvey AKA Loki: Scotland Today: Music, spoken word (poverty & politics)

McGarvey’s Fringe debut Poverty Safari Live was the breakout hit of 2018. It’s also a great book, a memoir and polemic about growing up in poverty in Glasgow. His new show, ‘Scotland Today’ promises to be equally good

1.5 degrees live

More than 100 readers, performers, members of the public, activists, authors read the 2018 IPCC Report on the impacts of global warming of above 1.5 degrees. Go along and listen, and if it inspires you to take more action to tackle climate change, Extinction Rebellion have a residency at Summerhall during the festival with shows, song writing workshops and an exhibition. Find out more here:





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Conscientious Objectors Day Vigil Held on Princes St

About 40 people attended the Conscientious Objectors Day at on Princes St in Edinburgh on the 15th of May 2019  where we were seen by many passers by.

Protest in Harmony choir graced us with 5 songs including Tell me the Names, written by Jane Lewis. The song was interspersed with the reading of names of COs from the First World War, women anti-war and peace activists and contemporary COs.

Accounts of Edinburgh area First World War COs

Ewan Mathieson spoke about his Grandfather, First World War CO, Dr John Cameron MacCallum. Andrew Farrar spoke about 3 Edinburgh Quaker First World War COs whose stories he researched for a WEA Scotland / P&J Legacies of Resistance to the First World War project.

First of these was Andrew White, an Absolutist who refused to obey any orders. On arrival at any military barracks he refused to wear uniform or to do any work which he considered advantageous to the war and was court-martialled. He served 4 sentences of Hard Labour, in Wormwood Scrubs London, Ayr civil prison, and in Glasgow both Duke St. and Barlinnie. He was released after 41/2 years on medical grounds in March 1919. After the war, he returned to J & R Howie Ltd. where he became the Company Secretary and to quote the local newspaper “amongst his peers gained a reputation for meticulous and conscientious administration”.

Donald Grey volunteered to join the Friends Ambulance Unit which ran ambulance convoys and ambulance trains. Donald went with the first draft to Dunkirk in October 1914. He started by building a typhoid hospital but time was also spent in providing the civilian population with general medical treatment. He frequently went with the ambulances to an exposed aid-post near Ypres. They covered the whole front from the Canadians to the British and Belgian and French. In 1915 Donald left the FAU to help set up an ambulance unit in Italy to work on the Italy/ Austrian border. In August 1917, Donald Gray joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and became an intelligence officer at Malta on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean maintaining the records of enemy submarines. After the war Donald returned to Oxford to read Geography taking the Diploma with distinction before becoming a teacher and later Head Master at his old school.

The youngest of these 3 COs is John (Jack) Hamilton, the son of an Edinburgh medical practitioner, who was barely 18 before appearing at his Military Service Tribunal. He was granted Exemption on condition he joined the Friends Ambulance Unit, (FAU). He was sent to France where he served until the end of January 1919. After the war, Jack qualified as a civil engineer. His penultimate job was as the resident engineer building the Forth Road Bridge (1958-64).

Catholic COs

Arianna Andreangelini spoke for the Catholic Peace group Pax Christi. She carried an effigy of St Franz Jaegerstatter, who was put to death for his refusal to join the German army in Nazi Germany. Arianna told the story of Franz and his wife and of Franz’s sacrifice. She also spoke about Josef Mayr-Nusserl, who was also beatified for having died as a prisoner on the ground that he had objected to becoming a member of the SS and of the former Secretary General of Pax Christie, Owen Hardwicke, who was a CO in WWII and was an ambulance worker in France.

Arianna commented that conscientious objectors speak to us today about what it really is to be Christians.  Jesus said, if ‘someone hits you, turn the other cheek’ (Mt 5:39); Jesus spoke of the peace makers as blessed, as happy people who will inherit the earth.  As Pope Francis said, objecting to be part of an army is a human right and a fundamental component to a peaceful world. Franz and Josef were not particularly educated, but they were profound men of faith; they knew where they stood and they stood there.  They knew that to be Christian is to be bearers of good news and peace, not of war, violence or strife.

Conscience: Peace Tax

Anne McCullogh from Conscience the Peace Tax campaign gave a powerful speach saying we should not have to pay for war.  And P&J intern Elizabeth Mitchell spoke about contemporary Conscientious Objectors in prison around the world today at the CO Day Vigil Edinburhg 2019 and Pete Cannell from Edinburgh Stop the War read out the statement of Columbian conscientious objectors.

Protest in Harmony choir closed the event by leading us all in a rendition of Down by the Riverside. After the vigil some of us laid flowers in Princes St Gardens at site where the Opposing War Memorial will be. This tree is not the actual Memorial. It’s near the site where the Bronze Peace Tree and bench will be. 

We’re still raising funds for the fabrication and installation of the Memorial. Anyone wanting to donate can do so at:

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Vigil to Mark Centenary of Release from Prison of Conscientious Objectors Today at Wellington Statue

Fifth Annual Conscientious Objectors Day Vigil Wednesday, 15 May. 5 – 6pm outside West Register House, East End of Princes St.

Descendants of prominent Edinburgh Conscientious Objectors will recall the sacrifice made by their grandfathers marking the centenary of the end of imprisonment for most First World War COs.

Descendants of First World War COs who will speak include Ken Duffy, the grandson of Arthur Woodburn, who was imprisoned longer than any other CO and who later became and MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, and Ewan Mathieson, the grandson Dr John MacCallum, who was imprisoned with hard labour for two years and became a Church of Scotland Minister.

Edinburgh based street choir Protest in Harmony will be on hand at the colourful vigil to sing a series of peace songs including “tell me the Names” which celebrates the courage of nearly 20,000 First World War COs and which was written for the occasion by choir song leader Jane Lewis.

Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre Coordinator Brian Larkin said “Conscientious Objection was first recognised as a right in Britain during the First World War and has been recognised by most European countries. This year’s vigil will mark the centenary of the end of imprisonment for most First World War COs in Britain. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Yet in many countries around the world COs are still required to fight or face prison. This year’s vigil will also be solidarity with conscientious objectors in Colombia, who refuse to be conscripted and bear arms despite various obstacles they face.”

Other speakers will include Arianna Andreangelini, convenor of the local Catholic Peace group Pax Christi. Andrew Farrar from the Edinburgh Quaker Meeting will recall three Edinburgh Quaker COs, Andrew White, Donald Grey and Jack Hamilton each of whom went on to make significant contributions to society.

Following the vigil all are invited to proceed to the site of the future Opposing War Memorial in West Princes St Gardens to lay flowers in memory of First World War COs at approximately 6:20pm.

Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre leads a consortium of local groups who are working to create a Memorial to conscientious objectors in Princes St Gardens. A fundraising campaign has attracted approximately £40,000 in private donations to cover costs of an artists’ competition, design, and technical drawings and planned workshops for community involvement. Further grant funding is being sought to pay for fabrication and installation of the bronze peace tree sculpture and granite bench in the West Gardens.

The proposal has been supported by two City of Edinburgh Council Committees and many MSPs and welcomed by Scottish Government. Planning approval is now being sought for the design. Details of the distinctive and engaging design proposal are available at:

More information on First World War COs is available at:

A statement by conscientious objectors in Colombia, giving a background of their struggle and urging their government to act on a number of issues along with links to more about the situation of conscientious objectors in Colombia can be found at:


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Save the INF; Support Other Measures to Lower the Risk of Use of Nuclear Weapons & Ban Them

Peace & Justice is supporting a protest tomorrow in Edinburgh at the Russian Consulate on Melville St (9am) and US Consulate on Regent Terrace (10:15am) in response to the announcements by the US and Russia of their intentions to withdraw from the Interrmediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (the INF). We will be joining other Scotland Internaional Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) partners in urging the parties to resume constructive dialogue and stay in the INF, and calling for them to join the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty (TPNW). Share the Event on Facebook here.

The INF was signed by Reagan and Gorbachev after huge and widespread public pressure in the 80s. The INF has reduced the risk of nuclear war in Europe since it was agreed in 1987. All of us who campaigned for the US and Russia to remove Cruise and Pershing and Russian SS missiles from central Europe breathed a huge sigh of relief when these dangerous weapons were dismantled and destroyed. The demise of this important treaty will be a huge setback and will greatly increase the risk of nuclear war, in particular in Europe.  

As an ICAN partner the Peace & Justice Centre supports the TPNW.  But that treaty will not come into force until it is ratified by 50 countries, and then it will not, at first at least, apply to the countries that do not sign it. That includes all the current nuclear armed states. And may not happen for two more years.

In the meantime Trump’s and Putin’s moves will increase the risk of nuclear war. That’s why we support a range of interim measures that will make us safer. These steps include a halt to Trident replacement and modernisation of nuclear weapons currently underway in nuclear weapons states, notably the US, which has begun a ten year programme at a cost of $1.3 Trillion. Under cover of modernisation it is upgrading several key weapons systems in ways that will destabilize the present balance of power and increase the risk of use of nuclear weapons. 

The US 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorized funds for the Defense Department to develop a  ground-launched cruise missile that, if tested, would violate the treaty.  In addition, the US is actively developing a low-yield Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile, the W-76-2  that is expected to be ready to roll out in October. While this warhead would be mounted on a long range ballistic missile it would not violate the INF Treaty, but it is part of the US response to the Russian and Chinese developments of intermediate nuclear forces. This is particularly relevant to the UK as these warheads could be deployed on UK Trident submarine. 
According to Hans Kristensen, Director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, this is a 5 – 7 KT warhead that will be mounted on the Trident D-5 missiles, that is the same missile as the current W-76 -1 warhead with its 100KT yield. The Hiroshima bomb had a yield of approximately 15 KT. The danger is that, were the US to launch the low yield missile Russia would not be able to determine whether it was low yield or high yield and would need to decide within minutes whether to launch their own high yield nukes immediately. Possession of such a low yield weapon will give the US more options for use of nuclear weapons in situations in which it would not consider the use of its strategic weapons.  
Furthermore the US is adding a remotely piloted guidance system to the B61 gravity bombs that are still deployed in Europe, again increasing its mission capabilities and posing a greater threat to Russia.
A Chink in the Armour of the Nuclear Weapons Establishment: A No First Use policy
This week US Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren introduced a No First Use bill through the Defense Appropriations Committee in the Senate. Obama had wanted to do so but was talked out of it by the National Security establishment. This follows a statement she made in October that she will support “three core nuclear-security principles:” No First Use, no new nuclear weapons and more international arms control, not less. By introducing this legislation she is demonstrating her intention to follow through on her rhetoric. This means that halting the US and adversaries’ modernisation programmes will be part of the debate during the Presidential campaign, and this has not happened for a long time. With this it is now possible to imagine her or other Progressive candidates outrightly supporting the Ban Treaty.
Elimintating nuclear weapons altogether though the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (TPNW) is ultimately the only way to ensure that they are never used again. Let’s keep campaigning for it while we continue to campaign for interim measures that will make us safer, and could open up the possibility of the Nuclear Weapons States getting on board with the Ban Treay.  
Brian Larkin
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Conscience the Peace Tax Campaign Inaugural Meeting for Scotland

On 8th October, Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War hosted a public meeting at the Quaker meeting house in Glasgow titled ‘The Future of Peace and Disarmament: A discussion’. Speakers included Douglas Chapman SNP MP and spokesperson for Defence Procurement, academic Dr Tim Street, Linda Pearson, author of the new Don’t Bank on the Bomb guide for Scotland, Conscience representative Anne McCullagh-DLyske and anti-war activist Sweta Choudhury who chaired the meeting.

The meeting was attended by some key anti-war and anti-trident activists from CND, Stop the War Coalition, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, etc. The meeting discussed some key findings of Conscience’s flagship report written by Dr Tim Street on Labour Party’s proposed Minister for Peace and Disarmament (MPD).

Dr Street highlighted some key issues related to the idea of a MPD such as Labour Party’s approach to NATO, unilateral disarmament, arms export control, conflict prevention, post conflict reconstruction, etc. He also spoke about the need to identify the right mechanism that the MPD project requires to work alondside the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and emphasized on the need for a cross party discussion on the issue. Douglas Chapman MP spoke about the need to drive current Foreign Policy towards one based on peace building, disarmament and international development. Working with trade unions on defence diversification was also discussed.

Linda Pearson added to discussion by talking about constructing a concrete plan to reduce jobs via military production and cutting funding for the military industrial complex and redirect those funds towards social goals. Final speaker Anne gave a heart breaking account of her personal experiences and gave an insight in to how wars have had a horrific impact on herself and her family. The were some very interesting questions asked during the Q&A and the meeting ended with Conscience’s first local group set up.

This meeting was Conscience’s first ever public meeting in Scotland and the response was great. They plan to have many more events in the future and are looking for keen and committed activists to join their local group in Scotland led by Edinburgh based Anne McCullagh-DLyske. The next meeting for activists is on 31st October at 6pm at the Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre, 5 Upper Bow, EH1 2JN.

If you want to support Conscience to build the peace movement and want further information about our activities in Scotland including those around Remembrance day, our street stall at Princess Street, etc., please email Conscience’s Local Group Development & Liaison Officer Sweta choudhury at sweta[at] . And if you’d like to find out more about the MPD report, kindly email Dr Tim Street at timstreet[at] For any other enquiries, get in the touch with the office at campaign[at] or call on 02035159132.

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Opposing War Memorial Get Committee Approval

Our proposal for a Memorial to Conscientious Objectors and all who oppose war has been enthusiastically approved by the Transport and Environment Committee of the City of Edinburgh.

imageEdinbrugh Peace & Justice Centre Coordinator Brian Larkin outlined why there should be a Memorial to COs in Princes St Gardens. Artist Kate Ive, who created the design proposal,  described the design and the original concept behind it.  Dr. Chris Ogden, a local supporter spoke emphasised that the Memorial would represent values of tolerance, diversity and the important role of conscience.

Here is a full transcript of our deputation to the Transport and Environment Committee setting out Why We Need an Opposing War Memorial in Princes St Gardens now. Our testimony can also be viewed starting at 40 minutes into the webcast of the Committee meeting. 


Councillors unanimously supported the proposals with the exact location to be decided by officers. Green Cllr Chas Booth said: “I think it’s fantastic. It’s clearly beautiful and it encourages thought, it encourages respect for those who showed the bravery to stand up in the past to war.”

Conservative Cllr Nick Cook praised “the consideration and the thought that has gone into this”. Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes who formerly worked for a landmine and cluster munition non-governmental organisation said: “I was tasked with dealing with those weapons and the impact of those weapons both during conflict and post-conflict. I’ve witnessed and understood very clearly the impact of war on human lives – the practical, the social, the very human cost attached to war. I think it’s very important that the voices that represent opposition to that can be heard in every situation. “I think it’s very important that it’s heard in Scotland’s capital city.”

As it is a World Heritage site final approval for the Memorial to be sited in Princes St Gardens has to be given by the Planning Committee. Determination of the exact location within the Gardens will take into account development of the Ross Bandstand and other areas as event spaces. These considerations will be worked out with Council officers and require approval by the Planning Committee. This is expected to take place  within the next six months.

The project budget is £167,773.00. To date we raised £18,317 and have spent £14,640. This means that to complete the project we need to raise £149,456.


Here is a report on the decision is in the Edinburgh Evening News.

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This Evil Thing – A Fundraiser for the Opposing War Memorial


Michael Mears is coming to Edinburgh to perform his play THIS EVIL THING  which tells the compelling and inspiring story of Britain’s First World War conscientious objectors, in aid of the Opposing War Memorial.  

20 November. 7pm (doors open 6.30pm).  

St Thomas Of Aquin’s R.C. High School,  

2-20 Chalmers Street, EH3 9ES


The Performance will be followed by a Q&A panel with Michael, and Elisabeth Allen, granddaughter of a First World War Conscientious Objector. Finishes at 9pm. 

Actor with a ‘bus pass’ (only recently required) embarks on an epic solo theatre adventure – driving alone in a white Peugeot van, carrying his stage set of nine distinctive wooden crates, to all corners of the UK.  (As well as to the U.S. earlier   this year.)

In the play Michael portrays around 52 characters (some with only one line, granted), including Bertrand Russell, Henry Asquith PM and Bert Brocklesby, who was one of the ‘Richmond 16’ group of COs who were sent to France and came within a whisker of being executed.  A number of verbatim testimonies from the COs and Russell himself are interwoven into the piece – (which runs at 80 minutes without an interval.) , Michael Mears and his white van arrives in Edinburgh on November 20th. 

His travels have taken him to regular theatres and theatre studios, but also to Quaker schools in Yorkshire, a chapel in Bristol Cathedral and a 400 seat tent. And during this November, there are four Scottish performances – including as far north as Dyce Parish Church Hall, outside Aberdeen.         

For more info contact: coordinator[at]

Acting has always been a risky profession of course – but this tour has been set up single-handedly by Michael and is completely unfunded – allowing him to barely break even – but it has been a labour of love and probably the most exciting and fulfilling thing he’s done in my professional life, involving him not only as actor and writer but as producer, administrator, transport captain, launderer and many other duties…

The audiences have included in the US many Vietnam War-era conscientious objectors, and here in the UK a 99 year old CO from WW2 as well as the granddaughter of Bert Brocklesby, the main CO featured in the play.

Find out more about the Opposing War Memorial and DONATE to the Memorial Fund at: 

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The United Nations and the challenges of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Pic: UN Photo/Isaac Billy 

The problem of how to respond appropriately to gross and systematic violations of human right that happen within the territory of a sovereign country has been subject to much international debate. On one side, there is the appeal to our shared humanity and the urgency to help those who are suffering no matter where in the world. On the other side, there is the international principle of non-interference in domestic affairs of sovereign countries. Arguing that human rights are a greater principle than sovereignty, the United Nations has promoted many humanitarian interventions that use force as a means to achieve its goals, understanding that consent is not necessarily needed, especially when the government of a country is the one attacking its own population and causing the humanitarian crisis.

In 1992, in Somalia, UN forces suffered heavy human losses and found enormous resistance in the provision of humanitarian aid. Fearing a recurrence of this, the international community took three months to act in Rwanda, in 1994. In the meantime, one million Tutsis were brutally exterminated. The failure in one African country sealed the fate of another, resulting in the first case of genocide since the Holocaust.

It became evident that a new consensus on responses to massive human rights violations was needed to help the international community to respond more efficiently and avoid new genocides. In 2001, the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine was created as a solution to the problem of how to respond to gross and systematic violations of human rights that happen within sovereign states. It sets out clear criteria for humanitarian interventions and an answer to the sovereignty dilemma. It argues that, to have their right of sovereignty respected, states must be able to provide security to their people. When they fail to do so, the international community is not only legally authorised to intervene in their internal affairs, but it also has the responsibility to do so in order to prevent and protect people from violence. This new concept delegitimised the discourse of leaders who appeal to the principle of sovereignty to protect themselves from any external interference while committing crimes against their own population.

However, in spite of being endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, the R2P principles that endorse humanitarian interventions remain controversial and the doctrine is as acclaimed as it is criticised.

One of the main criticisms is that states can invoke R2P to justify any military intervention, or that they would only do so based in their national interests. In 2011, the R2P-based intervention in Libya was accused of being a pretext to carry out regime-change. This has yielded global concerns that the R2P principles were used as a political excuse to intervene in the country’s affairs. As a result, Russia and China have later vetoed several attempts of humanitarian intervention in Syria.

It is also very hard to assess the efficiency of an intervention. Even when it is considered successful, there will not be any evidence to show what would have happened without the intervention. And while the benefits of the intervention might not be visible, the costs are, and any destruction caused by it will raise questions about its legitimacy and success in preventing harm.

But, ultimately, the main weakness of the R2P doctrine is that it is not legally binding, which makes it more of an aspiration rather than a real international norm. The United Nations relies completely on its member states to provide military force for any intervention that wishes to undertake, and has therefore to deal with the fact that, in most cases, they will put their national political interests above human rights urgencies, resulting in arbitrary decisions whenever a crisis requires the application of the R2P principles.

All these difficulties show that the R2P doctrine is far from being the solution to the problems the UN faces when trying to tackle gross human rights violations. Urgent reforms are needed in the areas of international peacekeeping, Security Council and General Assembly Reforms. But how could the UN be changed to effectively deal with all of its challenges?

In our event: “UN: Peacemaker or toothless tiger? Are you interested in how to reform the United Nations and bring about a more peaceful world?”, Vijay Mehta, Author and Chair of Uniting for Peace, will explore, analyse and put forward proposals for how the UN can become a relevant organisation fit enough to tackle the huge threats and challenges of 21st Century. Come and hear him and Dr. Claire Duncanson, Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the University of Edinburgh explore how the UN can overcome these challenges.

The event is on Thursday 4 October, 6.30 – 8.30pm, at 50 George Sq Room G.06, Edinburgh EH8 9LH. Free. All welcome. Book via

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