“Together First” was launched last November on the centenary of the end of World War I and the eve of the UN’s 75th anniversary. In September 2020 the UN General Assembly will adopt a political declaration which already has a name: “The Future we want, the UN we need”. The first part refers to the programme of Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September 2015 and the second acknowledges the need for an effective multilateral system to deliver the goals and address the catastrophic risks.
The strapline for Together First sums up the aspiration of this new coalition which in less than a year has members in all five of the UN’s regional groups. UNA-UK provides the secretariat and has produced 2 reports so far, the first bravely entitled “How to Save the World” and the second “Rising to the Challenge”.
Should this be of interest to anti-nuclear campaigners or is it just a utopian distraction? CND members who object to our organisation’s support for anti-austerity and climate change demonstrations would say it’s a distraction but as a lifetime UNA member of course I’m an enthusiast.
For a start, anti-nuclear campaigning gets its due place within Together First’s global framework. The first report includes Weapons of Mass Destruction in a list of five potentially catastrophic global risks for which there is a general consensus, and in the second report there’s an essay by Beatrice Fihn of ICAN. She explains that the governance mechanism for a nuclear-free world already exists: “It is called the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”
The Together First website has a long but non-exhaustive list of existing proposals for UN reform and global governance generally. And its “inclusive global consultation” invites proposals and support from every visitor to the site, be they “globally minded citizens” or acting for organisations: http://www.together1st.org.
On 2nd November UNA-UK is hosting a summit in London where proposals submitted online in previous weeks will be “discussed with like-minded individuals and UNA-UK staff”. For further information or to register, go to email@example.com.
We want to thank all members who have responded so positively, supporting the idea of an Art for Peace exhibition, offering practical help on the day and before, and for contributions to be considered for display. It looks as though we will have a really varied and colourful display. It will be a unique opportunity to look at the work which some of us will know well, such as Edwin’s posters, as well as work that has been forgotten or even unseen.
There will also be a chance to buy some prints of original work, (mostly Edwin’s) which have been beautifully framed and look most impressive; a good idea for Christmas presents, along with the postcards, Christmas cards and jewellery that will be on sale. So even if you are unable to give any practical help on the day, please come along, bring friends and family, enjoy some tea and cake and/or some of Aden’s excellent Asian cuisine, and do some advance Christmas shopping to help the peace movement, now more important than ever! We also hope to be able to show a powerful new video from ICAN about nuclear war. Remember — admission is free.
Publicity is the key to making a success of this exhibition. We have 2000 leaflets and 50 A4 posters to help with the advertising; if you can take a few to deliver to friends, contacts, etc., please contact Maisie at 03377 333034. Then there is social media. If you’re on Facebook, search for “Art of Peace Exhibition”, and please share it as widely as you can, and likewise the post on our WDC/CND Facebook page.
Subscriptions for the year 2019/2020 are now due. Cheques, payable to WDC/CND, should be accompanied by the form which you will find enclosed with this Newsletter, or use the bank transfer details (please remember to put your full name as a reference).
Please pay promptly — your subscription of £5 will go to cover the costs of production and distribution of this Newsletter, leaving our other funds free for campaigning activities.
For some years now WDC/CND has been part of Merton’s civic ceremony of remembrance, thanks to the efforts of Joanna and Alison, who worked consistently to secure representation of the peace movement in this event. This will be the second year without Joanna’s participation — yet another time when we miss her amazing input, but are determined to continue our work for peace.
Alison and one other member of the group will lay our unique red and white poppy wreath, red poppies for remembrance and white poppies for “never again”, after which we will hold our own short ceremony of readings and renewed dedication for peace. Please join us if you can at Wimbledon War Memorial from 10·40am on Sunday 10th November.
White poppies will be available at the Friday evening Vigil for Peace, and also at the Peace Table on Saturday 2nd November.
Ruth Crabb attended an ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) meeting in London on 23rd September 2019. It was well attended by representatives from Peace groups from around the British Isles including CND, Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW), Pax Christi, the Quakers, United Nations Association (UNA), Medact and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).
A wide range of issues was discussed. These included the public health implications of a nuclear attack, linking nuclear weapons to the effect any attack or accident would have on the climate, the next Strategic Defence Review which will probably be in 2022, divestment of public funds from the nuclear industry, and the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
At the time of the meeting 26 countries had ratified the TPNW and another 10 were expected to do so (a total of 50 is needed). There was particular disappointment that Sweden has, so far, decided not to sign. World-wide, 123 cities have signed the Cities Appeal supporting the TPNW. The World Medical Assembly’s 2018 statement on nuclear weapons strongly supports the TPNW, and Medact is trying to get the BMA to support a similar statement.
Faith groups are compiling a report on the policies of UK banks and pension funds on nuclear weapons, to be published soon. It will reference both the TPNW and Don’t Bank on the Bomb (https://www.dontbankonthebomb.com/). SNP CND and Greens CND are working with Scottish CND to push for the UK at least to attend any future meetings of the Meeting of the States Parties discussing the TPNW, which they have so far refused to do.
Altogether it was a very interesting meeting with lots to think about. Particular emphasis was put on the need to link nuclear weapons with the climate emergency in the shape of a nuclear winter, the military contribution to harmful emissions and to see both issues in the context of the planetary crisis.
CND was part of XR Peace, a coalition of organisations for peace and justice which participated in the Extinction Rebellion event taking place from October 7th to October 20th 2019. It has been estimated that about 6% of the global carbon footprint results from military-related activity, and militarism and war are inextricably linked with the destruction of habitats. XR Peace’s aim was to make explicit the links between militarism and the climate emergency, and to highlight the opportunities presented by transferring resources, skills and people power from the military into addressing the climate crisis. The message is that we need systemic change if we and our ecosystem are to survive.
Initially, XR Peace blockaded the Embankment, near the Ministry of Defence. Activists were arrested for locking on to a Trident missile, then later in the week staged a die-in directly outside the government department. There was also a series of speakers and performers throughout the week, expanding on how war and weapons contribute to climate change. The group finally put up its gazebo in Trafalgar Square on Friday 11th October, and stayed there until the 15th, when the Metropolitan Police cleared all the demonstrators out of the Square.
In this context, members may be interested in a short and accessibly-written book by Daniel Hunter, “The Climate Resistance Handbook” (foreword by Greta Thunberg). Peace News has recently printed 1,000 copies of this book to make it available at cost price (£1·65 each + p&p) to UK climate activists. It can be obtained from the Peace News webshop at https://peacenews.info/webshop
CND’s AGM Policy Conference was held on Saturday 19th October, where members gathered to debate motions and plan strategy. Some of the issues this year include the trashing of the INF Treaty, defence diversification, warfare and climate change, nuclear power, ecocide, NATO and much more.
On the Sunday, CND combined with the International Peace Bureau (IPB) to present an international conference entitled ‘21st Century Security: challenges and solutions’. They welcomed a range of international speakers from partner organisations, including Gensuikyo, the Japanese anti-nuclear campaign. The focus was not only on nuclear weapons; included were workshops on climate change and on the right to protest, as well as keynote speeches on nuclear disarmament in the age of Trump, and the implications of the rise of China. In the evening a reception was held at which CND Vice-President Bruce Kent was awarded the IPB’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize, for his lifelong commitment to the peace movement.
Those of us who attended some of the excellent events of the Wimbledon Bookfest were very gratified to hear that the winning entry was for an anti-war poem, entitled ‘Scrimshaw’. We are trying to make contact with the author so that we can obtain permission to publish it in our newsletter, and certainly intend to read the poem at our Remembrance Sunday commemoration.
The play “This Evil Thing” was written and performed by Michael Mears on the subject of Britain’s World War I conscientious objectors, and includes verbatim testimonies from the time of the First World War. It was acclaimed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2016, and has since been seen in over 100 performances in many parts of the UK and also in the USA.
It will be showing at the Tara Theatre in Earlsfield on the 7th, 8th and 9th November at 7·30pm. Tara Theatre is opposite Earlsfield Station on Garratt Lane SW18 and tickets cost £17·50. See https://www.tara-arts.com/whats-on/this-evil-thing
Amber Goneni, a member of the Youth and Student CND Committee, has just joined the London CND Executive and introduces herself in the current edition of Peaceline. She comes from a long line of CND supporters (her grandmother was the editor for Scientists Against Nuclear Arms — now Scientists for Global Responsibility).
Amber is a student of ceramics at the University of the Arts London but is taking a year out to take a role in the Student Union. Good to hear that she’s aiming to get more students engaged with political and ethical campaigns. She can also put CND supporters in touch with students who can help with poster and leaflet design. Information: http://www.londoncnd.org
Sheila Knight was a long-standing member of WDC/CND and, until a few weeks before she died, regularly attended the WDC/CND Steering Committee meetings, on which she started to serve very soon after retiring from being a Merton councillor. In spite of considerable health problems, Sheila managed to contribute to the work of the group, attending the Fete of the Earth, public meetings, and, whenever she could, the weekly Vigil and the monthly Peace Table. She was, as the Merton Council press report stated, “a fierce supporter of CND”, as well as being a pacifist and active member of the Co-op movement.
We recently received proof of Sheila’s commitment to peace when her solicitors sent us a cheque for £3777·20, bequeathed to WDC/CND from her estate. We very much appreciate this generous gift and assure members and supporters that it will be used to augment and intensify our work for peace in local and national campaigns.