Peace & Justice has joined in a Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, a coalition of over 60 charities, unions and community groups, in a letter calling on the First Minister to firmly oppose approval of Cambo oil field stating “a failure by the UK Government to step in and block this would be a serious breach of global trust.”
Cambo is the second largest undeveloped field on the UK Continental Shelf, containing 800 million barrels of oil. The first phase seeks to extract 170 million barrels ‒ the climate equivalent of running 18 coal-fired power stations for a year ‒ and would continue until 2050: five years after Scotland is due to reach net-zero emissions. The second phase would continue beyond 2050, and aims for ‘full-field development’.
The letter continues “Approving Cambo would contradict the International Energy Agency which has said twice that to meet global net zero by 2050 and to limit heating to 1.5ºC above pre-industrialised levels, there can be no new oil and gas fields approved for development.” It adds: “The approval of Cambo would also go against the advice of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who, said Countries should end all new fossil fuel exploration and production”.
Peace & Justice Scotland Coordinator Brian Larkin said: “The world’s nations are planning to extract 240 percent more coal and 57 percent more oil than would be needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It’s clear now, from the science and the increasingly regular extreme weather events, that that would be catastrophic. The First Minister should call on Boris Johnson to reject the proposed Cambo oil field, and, as all eyes turn to Glasgow for COP26, send a clear message to the world – that it’s time to stop all new fossil fuel extraction.”
Read the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland press release here.
Sr. Megan Gillspie Rice. January 31, 1930 – October 10, 2021
Peace and nuclear disarmament activist, Catholic nun and member of the Transform Now Plowshares, Megan was arrested several dozen times for acts of nonviolent protest at military and nuclear weapons sites. She spent time in prison for actions at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex and for protesting torture at Ft. Benning’s U.S. Army School of the Americas.
Sr Megan Rice at P&J 2016.
Friends of Peace & Justice may remember Sister Megan’s visit to the Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre when we were based at Upper Bow. As one of the Transform Now Plowshares group, at age 82, Sr Megan breached security at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where the core of the Hiroshima bomb, and of thousands more were created. The trio spray painted and hammered on the walls of bunkers in which nuclear weapons were stored, symbolically enacting the prophecy of Isaiah that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares”.
Sister Megan’s action continued the “Plowshares” tradition of mostly Roman Catholic nuclear disarmament activists started in 1980 and in turn inspired others. Five members of the “Kings Bay Plowshares” group are serving out sentences in halfway houses or home confinement in the United States, while one member, Fr. Steve Kelly remains wanted for his refusal to report for probation after completing a lengthy prison sentence.
Megan’s action also prompted a congressional review of security at the nuclear weapons facility. The US government is currently spending over $1 trillion to modernize its nuclear forces.
On Friday, 6 August 2021 we marked the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing with the launch of our Peace Cranes exhibition, which will run at this year’s Just Festival until 28 of August 2021 and remain in place until the 14 November 2021 at St John’s Church on Princes St in Edinburgh.
Bill Kidd delivered the congratulations of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who wrote: “My commitment to a world without nuclear weapons has been unshakeable since I first joined CND as a teenager in the 1980’s. The need for nations and governments to work together to secure a safer, more peaceful world is as great now as it was then, and Peace & Justice Scotland’s Peace Cranes exhibition launch event on Hiroshima Day is an important reminder of the horrors of nuclear warfare.
“I was previously privileged to meet some of the survivors of the 1945 bombings, who are known as the Hibakusha, when they visited the Scottish Parliament. My best wishes go to all of those attending the launch of Peace & Justice Scotland’s Peace Cranes exhibition as we look towards a world free from nuclear weapons.”
Our guest of honour was Mr. Nozomu Takaoka, the Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh who “On the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Hiroshima” expressed his “sincere condolences to the souls of the great number of atomic bomb victims” and extended his “heartfelt sympathy to those still suffering even now from the after effects of the atomic bomb.”
Mr Takaoka had met Sadako Sasaki’s former friend, now a medical doctor heading a world class cancer facility in Texas. This doctor had told Mr Takaoka her story when he visited her facility some years ago.
“She and Sadako were good friends and happily went to school together until the age of 10. She said Sadako was an athletic girl, who ran much faster than her. But at the age of 10, she beat Sadako for the first time during a race. And shortly after, Sadako developed leukaemia and spent one year trying to make 1,000 paper cranes in the hope that this would give her extra strength to survive. Sadly Sadako died before she could make 1000. She had been born in Hiroshima shortly before the Bomb was dropped. Today, joining Sadako’s wish for health, life and world peace, paper cranes are made all around the world.”
He commended the late Atsuko Betchaku, who began Peace & Justice Scotland’s 140,000 Origami Cranes Project back in 2015, Janis Hart for “inheriting this noble spirit and embodying the powerful message of peace through this monumental installation here at St John’s Church as part of the Just Festival, and everyone else involved in making this project a reality.”
Mr Takaoka also recalled that exactly one year ago, the Lord Provost, Frank Ross, was kind and thoughtful to attend a planting ceremony together with him at the Royal Botanic Garden. They planted Ginkgo Trees “grown from the precious seeds from the miraculous tree which survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.”
Therefore, he said, “I am happy to recognise this installation today as a second powerful symbol of hope, resilience and world peace in Edinburgh. This is particularly appropriate and precious since we are now fighting together to overcome the difficulties and challenges put forward by COVID-19.”
“In closing, I pray once again for the repose of the souls of those who fell victim to the atomic bombing, a world free of nuclear weapons and eternal peace.”
Frank Ross the Lord Provost also referred to planting the ginkgo tree in the Botanic Gardens with Mr Takaoka. For him this was more meaningful than that, perhaps because of the involvement of so many individuals in making the exhibition and the powerful work of art that Janis Hart has created. He said he has been to many exhibitions in Edinburgh over the years and of all of them this was the most unique.
Bill Kidd MSP expressed the thoughts of all saying “We keep in our thoughts the survivors – the Hibakusha, who have lived with dignity over these years, many of whom have travelled the world, to this day, reminding us all of the terrible doom which was visited upon their cities and their families 76 years ago. “
“Our Scottish government and Scottish Parliament, have an honourable tradition of standing up and speaking out for a nuclear weapons free world – where peoples of all lands can live and work together with the aim of building a better world for all of our citizens.”
Professor Jolyon Mitchell, Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at University of Edinburgh, giving the keynote address, considered the question ‘How can the visual arts contribute to building peace?’ suggesting that the arts can act as Memorial, Spotlight and Catalyst for change and some of the ways in which Janis Hart’s Peace Cranes installation does just that.
Artworks such as Picasso’s Guernica and the paintings of Paul Nash memorialize the victims of war, but do so in arresting ways. The experience of the First World War was so harrowing that Nash couldn’t paint the faces of the dead so left them blank and portrayed the destruction of the environment and landscape. Janis Hart’s carbonized trees in the chapel, echo the shattered and burned trees in Nash’s paintings.
Not only does each crane represent a victim of Hiroshima, powerfully memorializing them but, just as each crane is unique in the way it is folded and as the light strikes it, can spotlight each victim. Each crane too was made by a unique person, thus bringing every individual involved in the creation of this exhibition together. No two cranes are the same. Each reflects its creator.
Professor Mitchell considered too how something so insignificant as a piece of paper, so fragile as a single origami crane, could stand against the terrible forces of modern war. Origami cranes have become a powerful symbol of the hopes of people around the world for peace and disarmament and a catalyst for action. And, though each of us may have limited power, the circle of cranes reminds us that together we can end war and destruction and build peace in the world. He hoped that Janis’s work will be such a catalyst.
Finally, birds fly freely together and don’t recognise borders, and cited “Hands across the Divide” (Northern Ireland) which represents the possibility for reconciliation across boundaries and concluded with the words of Bertholt Brecht who said “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”
Reverend Markus Dunzkofer, Rector of St John’s Church, spoke about otherness and diversity. How many of us would hear his accent and knowing he is a gay Rector he asked, would think of him as other? St John’s Church he said embraces diversity, It was one of first congregations to recognise same sex marriage. The Peace Cranes, he said, remind us of the diversity of humanity.
He told of a friend in Chicago, an American whose parents had immigrated from Japan, who while interned during the First World War, had met a school friend of Sadako. This mentor had preached a pacifist message, and sometimes faced hostility from congregations when he preached. One man said to him, “If you don’t like it here why don’t you go back where you came from.” Of course he came from Chicago. It’s an experience that so many pacifists and anti-war activists, especially in the US have had, no matter what their ethnicity.
Lynn Jamieson, Chair of Scottish CND spoke of the widespread opposition to nuclear weapons in Scotland and the support of SCND for the nuclear weapons ban treaty (TPNW) and Lesley Orr thanked all those who contributed to the making of the Peace Cranes exhibition on behalf of Peace & Justice Scotland.
Helen Trew launched the Just Festival, marking 21 years and celebrated the partnership with Peace & Justice as having had many events at Just Festival.
The Peace Cranes exhibition 6 August – 14 November 2021 is a project of Peace & Justice (Scotland) and delivered in partnership with Just Festival and St John’s Church. Peace Cranes is curated by Iliyana Nedkova and Heather Kiernan. Supported by a range of funders, partners and volunteers. For all project updates follow https://linktr.ee/PeaceCranes
Peace & Justice is calling on Scottish Government to stop funding companies which arm Israel and Saudi Arabia, and on the UK to cancel permits on arms exports to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Arms firms in Scotland who sell weapons to Israel received nearly £10m in grants from Scottish Enterprise according to The Ferret.
Peace & Justice (Scotland) Coordinator Brian Larkin said “Public money should not be provided to companies exporting arms to any country where they are likely to be used to commit human rights abuses, war crimes or in violation of international humanitarian law.
“Scottish Government says that grants to arms companies do not support the manufacture of arms but only support diversification. Yet our recent Made in Scotland report published jointly with Campaign Against the Arms Trade found that through Scottish Enterprise Scottish Government provides funding and free account management services to ten conpanies that are arming Saudi Arabia, Yet Scottish Enterprise held meetings around diversification from arms sales with only four of them over a 12 month period in 2020.”
“Just as Scottish Enterprise supports companies that are arming Saudi Arabia where tens of thousands of civilians, including thousands of children have been killed by its bombing Scotland is providing financial support to ompanies that are arming Israel.”
“With the lives of innocent civilians and children at stake due to arms made here and used by Israel and Saudi Arabia many people in Scotland want this to change. Such obfuscation is not good enough. We urge the Scottish Government to review this policy urgently and at a minimum put a hold on any funding to companies providing arms to Israel and Saudi Arabia until such a review is completed.”
According to The Ferret weapons provided to Israel by arms firms with sites in Scotland include rocket launchers, bombs and machine gun systems. At least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, were killed. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, were killed.
Companies in Scotland to receive taxpayers’ money from Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s business agency, include: Leonardo MW, which received £7m from Scottish Enterprise between 2016 and 2020 and delivered 30 Aermacchi M346 aircraft to the Israeli Air Force in 2016; Raytheon, which makes systems for Paveway smart bombs, used in Gaza by the Israeli military, which was given around £100,000 by SE between 2016 and 2020; BAE Systems, which was given £1.6m and is a partner with US arms firm Lockheed Martin on the F35 combat aircraft which Israel uses and which received grants worth £176,615 and has supplied Israel with over 100 F-16I combat aircraft, as well as a rocket system.
Peace & Justice (Scotland) has joined with 170 Civil Society Organizations from 33 different countries to demand that governments around the world drastically reduce their military expenditures, which reached almost 2 trillion $ in 2020, a 2.6% increase over the previous year.
military expenditure amounted to $1981 billion in 2020, a 2.6% increase over
the previous year.
2020, the biggest spenders were the US, China, India, Russia, the UK and Saudi
Arabia. Except for Saudi Arabia, they all increased their expenditure over
Military expenditure by the 29 NATO
members reached $1103 billion, amounting to 56% of the total military spending
in the world. This is an increase of 13.6% compared
On Monday, April 26th, the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published the new figures for
global military spending in 2020. The world spent $1.98 trillion on the military during the first year of the
coronavirus pandemic, a 2.6% increase over the previous year and the highest
figure since the end of the Cold War.
You can download this infographic in high
References and sources on this link.
The five biggest spenders in 2020 were the
United States, China, India, Russia and the United Kingdom, which together
accounted for 62 per cent of world military spending. U.S. military expenditure
grew by 4.4 per cent in 2020, to $778 billion. China (1.9 per cent), India (2.1
per cent), Russia (2.5 per cent) and the UK (2.9 percent) all increased their
military spending in 2020.
Almost all regions in the world increased their
military spending, however, the U.S. remained by far the largest spender in the
world, accounting for 39% of global military spending in 2020.
The aggregated military expenditures
of NATO member states reached $1103
billion, which accounts for 56% of the world’s total. Nearly all members of
the alliance saw their military burden rise in 2020. As a result, 12 NATO
members spent 2 per cent or more of their GDP on their militaries, the
Alliance’s guideline spending target, compared with 9 members in 2019. France,
for example, the 8th biggest spender globally, passed the 2 per cent threshold
for the first time since 2009. NATO has
increased its military expenditure of 13.6% over the previous year.
The aggregated spending of EU member states amounts to 233 billion, 12% of the
world’s total spending, and the 3rd highest after the U.S. and China.
In the context of the Global Days of Action on
Military Spending (GDAMS), 170 civil
society organizations from over 30 different countries have come together to
urge governments to drastically reduce their military expenditure and make
human security-oriented sectors, such as health and the environment, the
priority of public policies and budgets. The COVID-19 pandemic and the
climate crisis have generated a global consciousness on the need to invest in
these sectors, however, the latest figures of military expenditure go in the
To make visible the outrageous opportunity cost
of these expenditures our campaign has prepared this infographic. It
illustrates current levels of military spending, and compares them with the
cost of human security-oriented spending, including programmes related to the
SDGs, the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency.
A 9% of the world’s total spending during the
next 10 years could finance the adaptation to climate change the Global
Commission on Adaptation proposes; A 10% reduction of the world’s military
spending could finance education for every person on earth (Sustainable
Development Goal 4); 26 hours without spending money on the military could save
34 millions people from starvation; The last 4 years of EU member states
military expenditures could finance the European Green New Deal. These are just
some comparisons which help understand the magnitude of the squandering that
military spending means for our societies.
GDAMS 2021 APPEAL
The world spent $1.98 trillion on the military in 2020,
a 2.6% increase over the previous year and the highest figure since the end of
the Cold War. Our governments’ ever-growing military capacities, in the name of
national security, have proved themselves completely useless to defend people
from the COVID-19 pandemic, nor can they keep us safe in the face of other
global emergencies such as climate change. In addition, as the victims of the
wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere can testify, militarism makes conflicts
worse rather than resolving them.
Current levels of military spending
not only fail to provide true security, but they actually stand in the way of
just and comprehensive solutions to the problems urgently demanding our
attention. Indeed, the military power our rulers are so committed to -including
new great power Cold Wars – helps create and sustain the very emergencies,
tensions and injustice that they claim they are protecting their populations
We therefore demand that governments across the globe drastically reduce
their military expenditures, especially those accounting for
the largest shares of the world’s total spending, and reallocate the freed-up resources to human and common security-oriented
sectors, notably for confronting the coronavirus pandemic and the
eco-social collapse we are now facing.
Now is the time for a reset of our
priorities as societies, and a new defense and security paradigm that puts
human and environmental needs in the center of policies and budgets.
We need to defund the military if we are to defend people and the planet.
The list of Organisations endorsing this appeal is the following:
Peace Group (GB)
Apuana della Pace (IT)
Acción Colectiva de Objetores y Objetoras de
development and empowerment (CM)
Alianza Iberoamericana por la Paz (Intl)
Alianza por la Solidaridad- ActionAid (ES)
Friends Service Committee (US)
New Zealand Campaign on Military Spending (NZ)
Security Network (KW)
Asociación de Desarrollo Solidario
“Yachaywasi de Tablada” (PE)
Asociación Española de Investigación para la
Paz (AIPAZ) (ES)
for Historical Dialogue and Research (CY)
Peace Action (NZ)
Solidarity with Latin America (AU)
Combined Union’s Choir (AU)
for International Cooperation and Disarmament (AU)
for Peace Disarmament and Common Security (US)
and Policy Lead, Medact (GB)
Campaña No soy arma de Guerra Nariño (CO)
Voice of Women for Peace (CA)
Cátedra UNESCO de Filosofía para la Paz
(Universitat Jaume I) (ES)
Cátedra UNESCO de Resolución de Conflictos
(Universidad de Córdoba) (ES)
CEMEA DEL MEZZOGIORNO (IT)
Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau (ES)
Centro di Documentazione del Manifesto
Pacifista Internazionale-International Peace Poster Documentation Center (IT)
Friends for Peace Building and Conflict Prevention (CA)
Colectivo de acompañamiento psicosocial
Colectivo de artivistas Co-inspirAndo (CO)
Convergencia de Saberes y Acción Territorial
Coordinadora d’ONGD i aMS de Lleida (ES)
Tracker Project (GB)
Desarma Madrid (ES)
Ecologistas en Acción (ES)
El Movimiento de Educadores por la Paz de
& Civil Rights Network (GB)
Escola de Cultura de Pau (ES)
Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) (Intl)
Foro de Asociaciones de Educación en Derechos
Humanos y por la Paz (ES)
Fundación Cultura de Paz (ES)
Gernika Gogoratuz (ES)
Campaign for Peace Education (US)
Grup Eirene (ES)
Grupo Antimilitarista de Carabanchel (ES)
Grupo de Noviolencia Elaia (ES)
Groupe pour une Suisse sans armée (CH)
Green New Deal (GB)
Nagasaki Day Coalition (Toronto) (CA)
and Peaceful Australia Network (AU)
association for peace and development in africa (US)
No to war – No to NATO network (Intl)
Peace and Disarmament Network (IT)
Queensland Inc. (AU)
Wage Peace, Quaker, Alternatives to Violence, Friends Peace Teams, Joint
Churches Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Program (AU)
Rebelde Colombia (CO)
Pastoralist Journalist Network (KE)
Campaign, Veterans for Peace (US)
La Central Única de los trabajadores de
Uruguay – PIT/CNT. 2- La Federación (UR)
La Comisión de CULTURA DEL PIT/CNT (UR)
des Cent Sans (BE)
Campaign Against Arms Trade (GB)
Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives (US)
Hudson Valley Advocacy Team, FCNL (US)
Peace Action (US)
Federation for Social Action (US)
War Tax Refusers (US)
MIR Movimento Internazionale della
Mouvement de la Paix (FR)
for Abolition of War (GB)
Movimiento Antimilitarista Colombia (CO)
Movimiento hijos e hijas por la memoria y
contra la impunidad (CO)
War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (USA) (US)
International Canada (CA)
Scotland CND (GB)
Peace Council (NO)
Droits de l’Homme Cameroun (CA)
FREE PHILIPINAS (PH)
Community of War Tax Resisters (US)
Justice (Scotland) (SC)
Action Maine (US)
Action New York State (US)
Action of Wisconsin (US)
Movement Aotearoa (NZ)
of Finland (FIN)
Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) (KR)
Percorsi di pace (IT)
Plataforma por la Desobediencia Civil (ES)
Punto pace Pax
Christi Catania, Italy (IT)
Ramstein Kampagne (GE)
Red Antimilitarista de América Latina y el
Caribe (RAMALC) (Intl)
Rete Italiana per il Disarmo (IT)
for Global Responsibility (GB)
War Coalition Philippines (PH)
Suomen rauhanpuolustajat ry (FIN)
Disarmament and Security Centre NZ)
Foundation for Justice and Development Initiatives (FJDI) (UG)
Sunrise Project CA
Peace and Neutrality Alliance (IR)
Maitriyana Buddhist Community (IND)
National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth – NNOMY (US)
center in Aarhus DK
Party – Non-violence, Justice, Environment (GB)
Peace-movement of Esbjerg (DK)
Point North South (GB)
Association for Peace & Solidarity (CA)
Peace and Justice (US)
Uniting for Peace (GB)
Uruguaya del Magisterio.(Trabajadores de
Educación Primaria (FUM/TEP) (UR)
USTEA Ecolo. Cádiz (ES)
V.A.S. (VERDI AMBIENTE E SOCIETA) (IT)
For Peace (US)
Resisters International (Intl)
Resisters League (US)
Peace & Justice Center (US)
WILPF – Italia cc (IT)
WILPF España – Liga Internacional de Mujeres
por la Paz y la Libertad (ES)
Nuclear Power (FIN)
Peace and Ecology (GE)
Action for New Directions (US)
International League for Peace & Freedom – NZ (NZ)
International League for Peace and Freedom (US)
International League for Peace and Freedom – Canada (CA)
International League for Peace and Freedom GB (GB)
We’ve joined partners, Scottish CND, CAAT Scotland and others and co-signed the Scottish Manifesto for Peace. With the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections in May, we must demand that candidates will work towards making Scotland a true leader in peace and disarmament, from training and diversifying our workforce towards a green economy, to halting all support for arms companies who profit from death and destruction around the world.
Last week the government published The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. “Global Britain in a competitive age”. The very title belies its misguided assumptions, rooted in a desire to return Britain to its 19th century role as a global power through unsustainable force projection abroad at the cost of real human and earth security.
In the Foreword Boris Johnson says “we must be willing to change our approach and adapt to the new world emerging around us.” Instead of demonstrating adaptation here is retrenchment. The Prime Minister commits the UK to “the biggest programme of investment in defence since the end of the Cold War.” In 2021 the PM tells us, “the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of the two largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, will lead a British and allied task group on the UK’s most ambitious global deployment for two decades, visiting the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.”
There is new funding for high tech warfare including armed drones, £6.6 billion for military research and development over the next 4 years and, as we learned last week, Trident nuclear warheads will be increased from 180 to 260.
This review follows a budget announcement that boosted military spending by more than £6Billion this year, the largest increase since the Korean War. Over the next four years, MoD spending is being boosted by £24Billion even as development aid is to be cut by some £4 billion, with cuts as high as 90% in some conflict zones. There’s a cut of roughly 50% for humanitarian efforts in Yemen where the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world has been caused by a Saudi bombing campaign for which the UK has provided the bombs.
The review brings defence spending up to 2.2% of GDP and prioritises expensive military kit such as aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons that do nothing to address the greatest threats to our security, climate change and pandemics, just as the government has refused an adequate pay rise for NHS nurses and while it is failing to adequately fund climate solutions.
This includes billions of pounds for new areas of warfare including a new artificial intelligence centre, £76m for a National Cyber Force and a new RAF space command to be sited in Scotland. This new spending comes at the expense of urgently needed infrastructure investment needed to tackle the climate crisis. In December the government pledged to invest £12 Billion to help the UK achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The Committee of Climate Change (CCC) however has estimated that spending to hit reduction targets for carbon emissions for 2020-21 was just £5bn. As we’ve discussed elsewhere this included £2bn devoted to the Green Homes Grant scheme for which it appears that only £0.1bn will be spent this year, meaning total spending is only £3.1bn of that £12bn pledge. We must ask why it is necessary to militarize space at a time when we can’t find the funds needed to save the earth from climate catastrophe.
The decision to increase the number of UK Trident nuclear warheads is dangerous and destabilizing. It reverses decades of disarmament and makes a mockery of the government’s claims to be in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which it is a signatory and under which it promised those countries that have no nuclear weapons that it would disarm. This move risks the ruin of the NPT and is likely to provoke other countries to increase their own numbers of nuclear weapons.
This decision contradicts the UK’s own assertion that the 180 nuclear weapons in its present arsenal represent a “minimum credible deterrent”. Recent studies have shown that the nuclear warheads on one Trident submarine are enough to plunge the world into a nuclear winter that would last a decade, causing crop failures that would lead to famine and could mean the death of over a billion people. That’s one seventh of the world’s population. The UK’s current stockpile is enough to ensure that three of its four Trident submarines are fully armed at all times. Nuclear deterrence theory is predicated on the assumption that any enemy would not attack us while we have the capacity to inflict unacceptable destruction on it. If the existing capacity to cause such destruction several times over is not a sufficient credible nuclear deterrent then what is?
Responding to the announcement of an increase in the number of Trident nuclear warheads the UN Secretary General’s spokesperson expressed “our concern at the UK’s decision to increase its nuclear weapons arsenal, which is contrary to its obligations under Article VI of the NPT. It could have a damaging impact on global stability and efforts to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons. At a time when nuclear weapon risks are higher than they have been since the Cold War, investments in disarmament and arms control is the best way to strengthen the stability and reduce nuclear danger.”
Sixty years ago as he left office President Dwight Eisenhower said “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” Yet we fail to learn.
Surely, now, as the world is passing through a pandemic that threatens us all and a climate crisis that will destroy the very living systems of the earth we can finally recognise that real security does not come from high tech weapons, a space force and more nuclear bombs. Surely now we can rethink our security policies and build a better future with real security for every human being on this shared planet.
In this year, when the UK will host the COP26 climate conference, Britain has the opportunity to lead the world away from imminent climate catastrophe. Only by scrapping these worthless military plans and instead fully funding the infrastructure needed to address the climate crisis and pandemic response and committing to do our part to support sustainable development can we be a truly global Britain.
Peace & Justice (Scotland) welcomes the recent decision made by councillors on Inverclyde Council to pass a resolution urging the Strathclyde Pension Fund (SPF) to move towards divesting from arms manufacturing and nuclear weapons.
Peace & Justice (Scotland) Coordinator Brian Larkin said “We welcome “Inverclyde Council passing this resolution. Inverclyde Council joins East Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and East Dumbartonshire Councils in calling on Strathclyde Pension Fund to divest from nuclear weapons. In addition Inverclyde’s call for the SPF to invest in renewable energy and other ethical alternatives models a sustainable way forward that will support wider efforts to address the climate emergency. This is a win-win that should reassure Counsellors elsewhere that they can do the right thing by getting out of the unethical business of arms manufacturing and still do their fiduciary duty.
The Inverclyde Council resolution reads:
“The Strathclyde Pension Fund is known to hold shares in 11 of the world’s 20 biggest arms manufacturers, including some involved in the production or maintenance of nuclear weapons or their delivery systems. Any investments in nuclear weapons producers are at odds with the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
The Inverclyde Council calls on the Strathclyde Pension Fund “to work towards eliminating current and future financial exposure to companies that are involved in arms manufacturing, giving due regard to fiduciary duty.”
The Strathclyde Pension Fund is one of the biggest local government pension scheme funds and one of the top 20 UK pension funds with over 250,000 members and £20bn of investments.
‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland’ (2), along with the NFLA has met with the SPF and held a wide-ranging discussion. Peace & Justice (Scotland) is one of three organisations in the Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland network, along with Scottish CND and Medact Scotland.
The SPF argue that they do engage actively with companies on ESG issues but are opposed to specific divestment policies which they argue are not as effective as a policy instrument.
Linda Pearson, from Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland said:
“We congratulate Inverclyde Council for passing this important resolution. Investing in nuclear weapons producers is at odds with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as the resolution states, and Strathclyde Pension Fund’s investment policies should reflect the fact that nuclear weapons are now banned under international law. It’s clear that there is growing opposition to Strathclyde Pension Fund’s unethical investments from its own member councils and we support Inverclyde Council’s call for the fund to divest from companies involved in arms manufacturing, including those involved in nuclear weapons production.”
Today Rishi Sunak released details of the Budget at Westminster. It included an increase in military spending from £42bn in 2020-21 to £46 in 2021-22, part of a £24bn increase to the military budget over 4 years announced in November.
This boost to military spending, the largest in 70 years – since the Korean War – was specially announced by Boris Johnson back in November in the same week that the government announced it would cut development aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP while it has committed to meeting the target of 2% of GDP on military spending which is being pushed by the NATO and the US.
Photo: Lockheed F-35 Jet fighter Lightning II. Public Domain Mark 1.0
So it came as no surprise this week when, at the UN Yemen donor conference, the UK confirmed that its decision to cut roughly 50% of its support for humanitarian efforts in Yemen. Britain pledged just £87m – 54% of last year’s donation of £160m, and only 40% of the total funding the UK provided in 2020. According to the Guardian “Yemenis and aid organisations have condemned [this] shortfall in international donor funding” “as a ‘death sentence’ for people suffering in the country’s civil war.”
And at the same time that it is cruelly cutting aid to Yemen it is defiantly continuing to provide the weapons and logistical military support to Saudi Arabia without which it would not be able to continue to conduct its ongoing war on Yemen, a war that is causing the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. Former Minister Andrew Smith (Conservative) rightly condemned the government for cutting aid but maintained that it is right to continue to sell arms to the Saudis, and, even after stating that our involvement in the war makes us “complicit” in the war crimes, almost unbelievably, claiming that, if we don’t sell them the arms “someone else will”
On another front, this budget will not even come close to providing the funding urgently needed to address the climate crisis. According to Scientists for Global Responsibility, in November, the government announced its ‘ten point plan for a green industrial revolution’ with a budget of £12bn per year, though with only £11bn earmarked for spending in the next four years, averaging £2.8bn per year.
In December, the Committee of Climate Change (CCC) published its analysis of spending to hit reduction targets for carbon emissions, estimating that government spending in this area for 2020-21 was approximately £5bn. This included £2bn devoted to the Green Homes Grant scheme. The latest evidence is that only £0.1bn of the Green Homes scheme will be spent in this financial year, meaning total spending is only £3.1bn. The CCC estimated that annual government spending needs to increase very rapidly to between £9bn and £12bn in order to meet targets for reducing emissions.
In its May 2019 report “Net Zero: The UKs Contribution to Stopping Global Warming” the CCC set out an agenda for reductions needed to reach net Zero GHG emissions by 2050. The Core and Further Ambition options it identifies would only achieve a 96% reduction. What it calls “Speculative Options” which are less easily achievable include: “changes in demand (e.g. in aviation and diets) alongside shifts in land use and other measures. 45 MtCO2e of emission savings would be needed from the Speculative options yet, nowhere in the report is there any mention of military sector emissions.
According to report by Scientists for Global Responsibility the UK military and weapons industries are responsible for 11 Million Tonnes CO2e emissions, equivalent to that of the annual emissions from 6 million average cars, yet these are not accounted for in the climate plan. But tackling the global climate crisis will require transformational action by all sectors, including the military.
Overseas deployments with vast troop movements and war games involving jet fighters that consume huge quantities of fuel are intrinsically carbon intensive. Government must consider changes to policies on military force structures and force projection abroad as a way of reducing emissions including reducing the purchase, deployment, and use of military equipment.
Beyond these two crises there is of course the pandemic. While the government of the UK is moving more rapidly than almost any other country to roll out vaccines some 100 countries around the world have yet to see a single dose. We’re all in this together. As long as COVID19 is not brought under control everywhere we are all at risk. But more than that this is a question of justice. Distribution should be equitable. We must ensure that the most vulnerable people get the vaccine, wherever they live and whether they can pay or not.
It’s clear that the UK is prioritizing an outdated model of national security that benefits arms dealers at the cost of real human security. Capping military spending would be a start towards freeing up the funding needed to address these multiple humanitarian and ecological crises, but in the end, what is needed are deep cuts to military forces and military spending.
On the day of Joe Biden’s inauguration, something truly extraordinary caught my attention. It was not the tiny American flags on the mall or the beautifully poised 22-year old Black woman poet performing her spoken-word piece. It was not even the arrival of the Second Gentleman in the White House.
It was the image of Biden signing a stack of Executive Orders rescinding Trump’s previous orders, ending the Muslim Ban, ending funding for the Border Wall, re-joining the Paris Accord, and more. Biden had had a bit of redecorating done in the Oval Office, the office in which Trump ranted and Nixon ordered the covert bombing of Cambodia. At that desk Truman signed the order that sent the Enola Gay to bomb Hiroshima, and three days later sent another plane to drop the Hydrogen bomb on Nagasaki. In that office, surrounded by the trappings of power, 45 previous presidents have presided over one of the most militaristic nations in history.
Portrait of Andrew Jackson. Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain.
Biden removed a portrait that had hung in the Oval during Trump’s time, that of Andrew Jackson, who, as a General in the US Army, led the Creek and Seminole Wars, and as President signed the Indian Removal Act, which paved the way for forced, genocidal expulsion of tens of thousands of Native American from their land into the West. A southern icon, Jackson had also stood against the emerging movement for the abolition of slavery. The removal of his portrait from the Oval on day one resonates with the wave of removals of statues of Confederate soldiers and other white supremacists and symbolizes Biden’s intention to confront racist violence in America.
His portrait was replaced with a large portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, perhaps the most progressive of American presidents, who used the power of government to lift the country out of the devastating depression of the 1930’s, a clear indication of Biden’s intention to leverage his position as Executive to lead the country through the present crisis.
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Photo Source: US Embassy in Guinea. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Alongside a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. already there, Biden installed busts of Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Cesar Chavez. The bust of Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt begin to rectify the omission of women from the public narrative of American struggles for justice. Eleanor Roosevelt, was an early civil rights activist, and later spoke out prominently for nuclear disarmament.
Rosa Parks in the foreground with Martin Luther King in the background. Credit. Ebony Magazine. Public Domain Mark 1.0.
Most people know that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus. Perhaps less known is that Parks had been a Secretary of the local NAACP chapter for years, and that the black Women’s Political Caucus, led by Jo Anne Robinson conceived the idea of the Montgomery bus boycott, drafted a call out letter and clandestinely printed thousands of copies in the offices of their workplace at the University. Because of those leaflets the whole black community stayed off the buses the next day, beginning the boycott that launched the brilliant young Rev Martin Luther King Jr on the path of leadership with the civil rights movement. History tends to celebrate visible leaders and individual heroic actions like those of Parks. Perhaps what the Oval office needs are murals of the many, millions of people whose combined actions transform injustice.
By spotlighting Parks, King and Chavez, with of a woman of colour as Vice President, and appointing the most racially and gender diverse Cabinet in US history, Biden is signalling that the administration will champion equality and civil rights. With a swathe of Executive Orders Biden is already delivering on social justice: reinstating access to health care for millions of low income people, increasing immigration quotas and ordering that all children of immigrants who were separated be reunited with their families.
These three champions of social justice all embraced nonviolence and civil disobedience as a method of achieving justice. King and Parks are no doubt well known to readers. Co-founder of the United Farmworkers of America, Cesar Chavez may be less known this side of the Atlantic. Influenced by Gandhi, Chavez unionized farmworkers and gained contracts improving working conditions and wages for farmworkers in the California grape industry.
Cesar Chavez at a UFW rally in Delano, California in 1972. Wikimedia. CC by Attribution 3.0 Unported license (sic).
Millions of people, in the US and in Europe, boycotted grapes – making a sacrifice in solidarity with the most exploited workers in America. In 1968 Chavez fasted for 25 days. He was joined by Robert Kennedy. Cesar said “Farm workers everywhere are angry and worried that we cannot win without violence. We have proved it before through … hard work, faith and willingness to sacrifice. We can win and keep our own self-respect and build a great union that will secure the spirit of all people if we do it through a rededication and recommitment to the struggle for justice through nonviolence.”
I had the good fortune to work with the UFW on the second grape boycott in the 1980s organising a speaking tour for Cesar Chavez. This boycott focused on the use of toxic pesticides, exposure to which was causing serious health issues for farmworkers and cancer clusters in agrarian communities. By this time Cesar’s concerns were, like the later King, more holistic. He described grape vines being injected with a chemical that swelled the grapes, roots of citrus trees being injected with fungicides that were absorbed into the flesh of the fruits, and a machine that grabbed the almond trees and shook them to bring down the nuts, branches, leaves, all. “The poor trees,” he said. He was already sick with cancer and one of my responsibilities was to arrange macrobiotic meals at stops on the tour.
Cesar Chavez at Michigan State University. East Lansing. 1987.
Cesar went on a long fast in 1988 that reflected these ecological concerns. “I have been studying the plague of pesticides on our land and our food” he said. “The evil is far greater than even I had thought,… it threatens to choke out the life of our people and also the life system that supports us all. The solution to this deadly crisis will not be found in the arrogance of the powerful, but in solidarity with the weak and helpless. I pray to God that this fast will be a preparation for a multitude of simple deeds for justice. Carried out by men and women whose hearts are focused on the suffering of the poor and who yearn, with us, for a better world. Together, all things are possible.”
Like many who engage in struggles for justice, Chavez is a mixed figure. He has been criticised for association with a discredited cult and some historians argue that his efforts to build a farmworkers’ union (an exceptionally difficult task due to dispersed workplaces and migrant workforce) ended in failure. Yet he remains a Hispanic icon.
It’s impossible to know exactly what Biden means by placing the images of these civil rights leaders in his office. After all, Donald Trump incongruously kept the bust of King. Co-founder of the UFW Delores Huerta said “It’s really a very strong message that the strongest person in the whole world, the president of the United States of America, would have a bust of Cesar Chavez, a very simple, humble farmworker… who dedicated his life to make life better for the poorest of the poor – it indicated that the president is saying to everybody, I am your servant leader, and I am here to serve you.” Perhaps.
First female Mexican American union leader, Dolores Huerta. By Yreina Cervántez. Los Angeles. CC by 2.0.
If that is so, might the inclusion of these 3 proponents of nonviolence in the pantheon of American heroes suggest more than a promise to promote civil rights and equality for women and people of colour? King can mean different things to different people. Most Americans today remember the Montgomery bus boycott, his “I Have a Dream” speech, perhaps his letter from the Birmingham jail, and Selma. Few remember his speech at Riverside Church where he condemned the US war in Vietnam, calling America the “greatest purveyor of violence on our planet” and denounced the triple evils of racism, materialism and militarism in America as inextricably intertwined.
Judging from Biden’s long record of support for the military, including Obama’s ten year upgrade of nuclear weapons at a cost of $1 trillion, and his support for the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where a million Iraqi people died, it seems likely that for Biden the bust of King will be a reminder of his narrower civil rights legacy. Let us hope that he may also go with King all the way to embrace his holistic vision laid out at Riverside Church.
If Biden ignores the legacy of King in those last years and continues to support the largest military budget on the planet and to maintain a nuclear arsenal capable of destruction of all life on earth, then the civil rights, and racial justice agenda will fail because ultimately, as King insisted, racism and materialism are interconnected with militarism. In the end, the people cannot wait for a president to lead us – we must push for peace and justice with all the nonviolent tools at our disposal.
We welcome President Joe Biden’s decision to end offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We note however that the US will continue to provide so-called “defensive” support to Saudi Arabia and will continue operations against al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula. The US should end all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UK Foreign Office has said it will not stop arming Saudi Arabia. We call on the UK government to stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE including maintenance and crucial logistical support (especially for targeting), increase humanitarian aid to Yemen and press Saudi Arabia and UAE to implement a ceasefire and negotiate a peace agreement.”
Almost six years of conflict in Yemen has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 24 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 12 million children. The UK is now the largest enabler of the Saudis with over £6 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi forces since the war began. CAAT estimates that the real total value could be three times higher. The continuing provision of support and arms is a clear violation of the UK’s own guidelines on arms sales, and of international law.
Over 230,000 people have been killed as a direct consequence of the war. 2 million people have been displaced (UNHCR, Oct 2018). The cholera outbreak, caused by the destruction of infrastructure, is the worst on record, with over one million suspected cases (Oxfam).
The UN has suggested that Saudi forces have killed twice as many civilians as combatants. Sites which have been bombed by Saudi forces include schools, hospitals, homes, a refugee camp, a wedding, a funeral, a market place and a school bus. Atrocities have been committed on all sides, but Saudi coalition air strikes are responsible for the majority of civilian deaths. According to Yemeni Human Rights group Mwatana (2018), Paveway IV missiles with components made at Raytheon’s factory in Glenrothes have been linked to attacks on civilian infrastructure in Yemen. Scottish Enterprise awarded grants to several arms companies, including Fife-based Raytheon, which sell weapons to Saudi. The Scottish Government should end all grants to arms manufacturers.
Peace & Justice is calling on the UK government to end all arms sales to and military cooperation with Saudi Arabia. The government should immediately refuse licence applications, revoke any extant license for exports where the end-user is the Saudi military and end cooperation between the UK military and the Saudi military at all levels.
This post was published as the Editorial in the February Peace & Justice News. There is lots of movement news, P&J News and feature articles in the magazine. Read the full edition here.
With Donald Trump no longer having the authority to launch US nuclear weapons and the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons one might have thought that, when it comes to the risk of nuclear war, we could breathe a collective sigh of relief. Surely the hands of the Doomsday Clock were about to move back a notch or two.
But the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have spoken today, and for many good reasons, have kept the iconic clock at 100 Seconds to midnight, the closest this symbol of the threat of armageddon has ever been to midnight in its 75 year history.
The Bulletin statement says that our collective global lack of preparedness for the COVID 19 pandemic should be a wake up call. “Accelerating nuclear programs in multiple countries moved the world into less stable and manageable territory last year. Development of hypersonic glide vehicles, ballistic missile defenses, and weapons-delivery systems that can flexibly use conventional or nuclear warheads may raise the probability of miscalculation in times of tension.”
The Bulletin acknowledge that new US President Joe Biden’s inaugural day Executive Order rejoining the Paris Accord along with his lesser noticed overture toward Russia in offering to extend the START 2 agreement that was due to lapse represent significant signs of hope.
But, “in the past year”, the statement continues “countries with nuclear weapons continued to spend vast sums on nuclear modernization programs, even as they allowed proven risk-reduction achievements in arms control and diplomacy to wither or die. Nuclear weapons and weapons-delivery platforms capable of carrying either nuclear or conventional warheads continued to proliferate, while destabilizing ‘advances’ in the space and cyber realms, in hypersonic missiles, and in missile defenses continued. Governments in the United States, Russia, and other countries appear to consider nuclear weapons more-and-more usable, increasing the risks of their actual use.”
Governments, they point out, have “failed to sufficiently address climate change. A pandemic-related economic slowdown temporarily reduced the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. But over the coming decade fossil fuel use needs to decline precipitously if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided. Instead, fossil fuel development and production are projected to increase. Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations hit a record high in 2020, one of the two warmest years on record. The massive wildfires and catastrophic cyclones of 2020 are illustrations of the major devastation that will only increase if governments do not significantly and quickly amplify their efforts to bring greenhouse gas emissions essentially to zero.”
Peace & Justice and other peace movement campaign groups have been making the argument for some time now that the threats posed by the climate and ecological emergency and nuclear weapons are twin threats to humanity and the planet. We must heed this wake up call and continue to use every available opportunity to advocate for governments not only declare a climate emergency but to follow the science. Governments must enact far more ambitious programmes to bring GHG emissions down to net zero by the end of this decade. In its role as host of COP 26 this year, the UK has an unmissable opportunity to lead the world back from the brink by massively scaling up its emissions targets; and the UK and other nuclear weapons states should join the nuclear weapons ban treaty and start the process of disarming our nuclear weapons before its too late to pull back from the brink.
In 2015, Peace & Justice (Scotland) member Atsuko Betchaku (1960-2016) – a historian and pacifist – embarked on an international collaborative project of folding 140,000 origami peace cranes to represent all those who were killed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
In memoriam of Atsuko
and in recogniion that on 22 January 2021 the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty enters in force, Peace & Justice
(Scotland) initiated Peace Cranes – an exhibition of contemporary art exploring
the nuclear and environmental crises through the works of international artists
and activists, as well as 140,000 origami peace cranes to be launched later in
2021 in collaboration with Just Festival – Scotland’s festival of peace, human
rights and social justice and the Peace Museum – UK’s only museum dedicated to
the history of peace.
We also encourage readers to join the Twitterstorm on 22nd of January and helping raise awareness of the Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Click HERE to find the NEW HASHTAG to use starting at 11am, suggested Tweet, graphics to share, and lots of other ideas for re-tweeting and other ways to help get this big good news trending!
This Friday (22nd Jan) campaigners across the globe will be celebrating the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entering into force, making nukes illegal under international law. To bring our message to a wider audience, ICAN Partners and supporters in the UK will be taking to social media to create a Twitterstorm.
WE NEED YOU to TWEET using the new Hashtag. Here’s how to get involved.
From 11am-1.30pmon 22nd January ICAN UK Partners will introduce the new #NukesOutUK hashtag which we will try to get trending via 2.5 hours of intensive activity. This hashtag can be used in combination with #nuclearban, which ICAN groups internationally will be using throughout the day.
It is important that we do not use the #NukesOutUK in advance of 11am on the 22nd January – because Twitter favours novel hashtags that have not previously appeared.
Don’t over use other hashtags. Twitters guidance is that ‘One to two relevant hashtags per Tweet is the sweet spot’.
Please tweet your own messages of support during this time OR just copy and paste text below.
Include @GovUK and @BorisJohnson in the tweet to call on UK to Join the Treaty
Follow #nuclearban and #NukesOutUK and RETWEET as many tweets as you can.
If you add a short comment be sure to again include #NukesOutUK in your comment.
Follow us @PeaceJusticeSco(Note our NEW Twittter NAME) and @nuclearban and ICAN partners, @ICAN_UK, @ScottishWILPF @GCOMSUK, @banthebomb, @TridentPlough, @Medact and @cnduk and Retweet our Tweets.
Below are graphics that you are welcome to use. Tweets with graphics, photos are more likely to be retweeted.
Make a very short video of yourselves . Make a wee poster with words such as “Nuclear Weapons Always Immoral Now Illegal #NukesOutUK on the poster and shout “Nuclear Weapons are banned today!” and cheer.
Lots of people will be ringing belss to announce the treaty. If you are Ringing Bells make a wee poster and take a photo or video and share it. Include the hashtag.
Use the hashtag when sharing links to other related content – not all new on that day, but another way of getting readers’ interest.
Here is suggested text for a Tweet you can simply Copy and Paste and tweet with one of the images below.
1 Trident sub firing 1/3rd of its nukes would plunge world into nuclear winter. #ClimateChange would happen overnight. Crops would fail. Billions would starve. It’s time to stop putting humanity & planet at risk. Time for @GOVUK to join the #Nuclear Ban #NukesOutUK @BorisJohnson