Around 250 CND members from all parts of Britain came to Leeds for the conference by kind permission of the city council in the banqueting hall of Leeds Civic Hall. This could reasonably be described as a stately Victorian pile, with plenty of marble and velvet pile carpets. Shortage of petrol did not deter many and did not reduce the energy with which resolutions were debated. All the officers were re-elected.
One of the most important resolutions, from Labour CND, supported the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treat (ABM) which the US government would like to scrap. Another opposed National Missile Defence (NMD) which will help the defence of the US. It requires tracking stations in Britain although not offering us any protection at all! The conference also voted to oppose the use of military bases in Britain for NMD. Although the US government has postponed implementation of this new defence strategy one speaker said that the research is still going on.
Other resolutions included one on Trade Union CND where a joint meting will be held to bring the members back into the CND fold; another urged work on arms conversion from arms manufacture to civil production, promised by the Labour government but not implemented. Conference called for the removal of sanctions on Iraq in a resolution tabled by Richard Crump from London Region CND.
There were two visiting speakers from the US peace movement, one of whom spoke to the conference. He said that while the official budget for NMD missile defence was only $4 billion, the actual figure was nearer $40 billion with the actual figures kept secret. In the interest of transparency the American campaign had mapped every missile site in the United States.
There were many fringe meetings and workshops, including one in which Alice Mahon MP, chair of the Committee for Peace in the Balkans, and Helen John, of the Menwith Hill Women’s Peace Campaign, were speakers. Jeremy Corbyn MP was one of the speakers in a workshop about NATO. CND’s Parliamentary Officer, Sam Akaki, and Nigel Chamberlain, Press Officer, gave a very stimulating workshop about their team which also now includes Patrick dem Bulk, a former publicity officer for CND.
Jim Addington, Kingston Peace Council/CND
This took place on September 2nd and gave many of us the chance to discover the delights of the newly landscaped Wandle Park in Colliers Wood for the first time.
Tina (Greenpeace) and Auriel (Friends of the Earth) had worked very hard to get the event off the ground, and although the weather was indifferent it was a brave attempt to give Merton its own ‘Green Fair’ to rival neighbouring Kingston. It would be excellent if it could become an annual occasion.
We called upon our helpers at very short notice and thank you to everybody who rallied round. We took £64 on our stall and collected 154 signatures on the Abolition 2000 petition, gave out lots of literature, and made some new members.
WDC/CND members will be sorry to hear that the Japanese cherry tree planted by Lord (Hugh) Jenkins of Putney in 1995 outside Morden baths has fallen victim to the landscaping associated with the redevelopment of neighbouring Morden Registry Office. This seems to be a tale of muddle rather than vindictiveness, and to be fair to the Council we had failed to replace the vandalised commemorative plaque. We are grateful to Councillor Barbara Bampton who has taken up our case with the Council, who now accept full responsibility for the mistake and who have arranged to provide a replacement tree.
This will be planted with a suitable ceremony towards the end of this month. I am sorry that we cannot yet give precise details but if you would like to be present please contact Joanna on 8543 0362 nearer the time.
Karl Miller of Merton UNA will be speaking at our meeting on October 10th about his experiences in New York, where he attended the Millennium Forum at UN Headquarters last May.
He was one of 1,350 people from all over the world (representing more than 1,000 non-governmental organisations) who met to discuss the rôle of the United Nations in the twenty-first century, as a preliminary to the official governmental Millennium Summit which took place 6-8 September. ‘Peace, Security, Protection and Disarmament’ figured as one of the main themes of the Forum and we look forward to hearing what Karl has to say.
Hearings start on October 9th, marking what is potentially the most important milestone in the legal battle against nuclear weapons since the World Court delivered its advisory opinion in 1996.
WDC/CND members will remember that the 3 Trident Ploughshares women were acquitted by Sheriff Margaret Gimblett after damaging the ‘Maytime’ floating laboratory. Their defence was that they were engaged in crime prevention through the disarmament of illegal weapons of mass destruction. They cited international law and no counter evidence was called by the prosecution.
As a result of the trial the Lord Advocate of Scotland (on behalf of the UK Government) has submitted a Reference to the High Court in Edinburgh asking for a clarification on points of law. The Court’s opinion will have no effect on the acquittal of the women but the implications for the global campaign against nuclear weapons are immense: the application of international humanitarian law to nuclear weapons, as clarified by the World Court, is now under review in a nuclear weapons state.
The Government’s four questions carefully avoid any reference to the crucial issue, the legality of Trident, but Angie Zelter (whom some of us heard speaking in Richmond last winter) has invited the court to accept an additional petition concerning the criminality of Trident, together with a request to consider possible legal defects in the questions presented by the Lord Advocate e.g. references to ‘protesters’ (when the women were engaged in crime prevention) and to the “possession” of Trident when the point at issue is deployment and threat.
At a Preliminary Hearing held on September 12th, the judges agreed to ask the Crown to consider redrafting their questions while no final decision has yet been taken on Angie’s request for a separate judicial enquiry into the legality of Trident.
Essays written by founding President Frank Blackaby. ‘Alternative Futures’ contrasts two kinds of possible future. Power-based futures involve a continuation of the search for regional and global hegemony by competing powers. In law-based futures, instruments of ‘global governance’ are strengthened, the UN is reformed and new international organisations develop. ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction vs. Precision-guided Munitions’ discusses the consequences for disarmament of changes in military technology. Precision Guided Munitions are supposedly capable of detailed target distinctions; but their existence may not help to promote arms control. A rational alternative is to develop an effective non-proliferation system for nuclear weapons.
Abolition 2000 UK, 601Holloway Rd, London N19 4DY. Tel: 020 7281 4281
Saturday September 30th marks the day 14 years ago when Mordechai Vanunu was kidnapped, lured from London to Rome by a Mossad special agent, drugged, manacled and smuggled to Israel to face a secret trial — for telling the truth about the Israeli nuclear weapons programme to the Sunday Times.
Please support the 12 hour vigil (10am − 10pm) which will be held at the junction of Kensington High Street and Kensington Court (opposite the Israeli Embassy). The weekly vigil which takes place every Saturday from noon till 2pm is now in its 9th year; nearly 200,000 leaflets have been distributed and £3,000 has been collected.