Submissions of evidence were invited to inform the government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.
XR Peace Submission (pdf)
XR Peace is a movement within Extinction Rebellion that especially highlights the military causes and impacts of climate chaos. We take action for Peace, Disarmament, Human Rights, Real Security and Climate Justice.
Climate Justice and war have the same root causes as structural inequality, racism and violence against women. They are the consequences of military-industrial systems of unsustainable growth, profit, aggression and exploitation.
Armed conflict and weapons contribute to poverty and cause great misery and death. Refugees flee their homes. Climate chaos makes everything worse. When things go wrong, the most vulnerable are at greatest risk. Women and children inevitably pay the highest price.
In March 2020, as Covid-19 spread around the world, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire saying: “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
That means working together locally and globally to tackle the climate emergency and build up everyone’s health, care and education services. We have to reduce all weapons and military budgets, and develop effective, nonviolent ways to share resources and resolve our conflicts together. Care work and sustainable jobs are Green jobs.
There is No Planet B – Protect the Home We Share
Around $100 billion per year is spent on 13,400 nuclear weapons held by 9 nuclear states.
Detonating just a few of these nuclear WMD would add catastrophically to climate destruction and cause billions of initial survivors to die. Not only of radiation sickness, but of starvation all over the world.
The Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of UK weapons production and military spending in 2018 was 11 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, as calculated by Scientists for Global Responsibility. BAE Systems produced 30% of these annual UN military-related emissions.
Make Urgent Changes Now to Create Real Security, Before it’s too late
On 1st September the UK Parliament starts re-sitting after the summer: so Extinction Rebellion UK are going to make sure they start anew with justice, care and life at the heart of it.
From the 1st XR will peacefully disrupt the UK Parliament in London, carrying out pressure building actions over two weeks, until they back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and prepare for crisis with a National Citizens’ Assembly.
The Rebellion will not just be focused on London though. Rebels will also join us in disruption of Cardiff and Manchester. These rebellions are open to all!
XR Peace are unable to participate as a movement within XR for this Rebellion – But XR Peace individuals are encouraged to get involved by forming their own autonomous groups or with other XR groups attending the Rebellion.
REPORT OF THE 2020 INTERNATIONAL PEACE FAST IN KNIGHTON
As part of Trident Ploughshares and XR Peace, 2 women (Angie Zelter and Lyn Gardenchild), fasted over 4 days to grieve and commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
They prepared 4 exhibition boards with information about the bombings, the 9 nuclear weapon states, the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, XR Peace and the impact of the military on climate chaos.
On each of the 4 days the boards, banners, and tables for leaflets and crane making were set up at 7.30 a.m. and then taken down at 6 p.m. Social distancing was adhered to although family clusters were closer. More than 50 different people visited the fast to view the exhibition, take part in the workshops or play music. Some people attending fasted for a day or missed a meal in solidarity and £188.80 was raised for the Knighton Food Bank.
The opening ceremony on Thursday 6th August at 8,15 a.m. was attended by around 13 people and there were readings from the Hiroshima Hibakusha and a bell from Hiroshima was rung.
Tod (on violin) and Camilla (on accordion) played for an hour while the knitting of white poppies began. This was followed by Baptist Minister Rev.Kevin Dare leading a workshop entitled ‘Is there any real hope for peace?’ We concluded that there was! He was joined by other local ministers representing the Church of Wales (Rev. Petra Goodband) and the Catholic Church (Father Jerome) and between them they led Prayers for Peace.
The atmosphere of the fast was lovely, calm and welcoming. At 3 p.m. Penny Rosenthal led a workshop on Maslow’s pyramid on the constituents of security and people joined in making themselves heard even over the very loud traffic noises.
Friday 7th August found the knitters fast at work and a young family came along and the father bought 2 of the poppies for his children. Christine (on whistle) along with Tod (on violin) made the time pass very pleasantly and intrigued passers by. The morning workshop led by John Goodband was fairly technical and explored the peaceful uses of radiation in cancer treatment, ending with a plea for just a fraction of the money spent on Trident to pay for more healing equipment.
The afternoon workshop led by Angie Zelter was on the impact of climate change on our security. The participants told us of the changes in climate they had observed locally and in the world at large and came up with lots of suggestions on how our local environment would be made more resilient and secure. Shadows were chalked on the ground – many people were unfamiliar with this tradition that symbolizes the shadows found on pavements in Hiroshima – the only remains of the people burnt into the ground by the heat of the explosion.
Saturday 8th August the peace crane making started really early and 3 strings of cranes were hung in the branches of the pin oak that was scattering us with beautiful flattened acorns. Charlie (on guitar) played for us, despite a badly cut thumb, and was then joined by John (who drummed on the guitar case and the Hiroshima bell).
Rev. Petra Goodband then gave a workshop giving us an insight into what a variety of different faiths said about nuclear weapons. Most outlawed indiscriminate weapons that killed civilians.
The afternoon workshop, led by Nandita Dowson on the Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands was very informative and lively and engendered much discussion.
Nagasaki day, 9th August, began quietly with Camilla (on accordion) and Chris (on flute).
11.01 a.m. began with John drumming. About 16 people gathered in a socially distanced circle to hear about the Nagasaki tragedy, a song was sung, a poem read, tears were shed.
But the good news was shared that on Hiroshima Day, 3 more States ratified the The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – Ireland, Nigeria, and Niue – and on this Nagasaki day Saint Kitts and Nevis also ratified. There are therefore now 44 States Parties.
There are only another 6 needed for the Treaty to come into force. We ended with a socially distanced group hug.
What are the links between the military and climate change?
How is campaigning for the environment linked to the campaign for Nuclear Disarmament?
How can we build successful campaigns as we lift out of the Covid Crisis?
Join XR Peace founder, Angie Zelter in conversation with Marine turned war-abolitionist Brian Jones, anti-nuclear and environmental activist David Collins, Nobel Peace Prize winner Rebecca Johnson and Quaker, feminist and peace activist Janet Fenton as they discuss the links between war, climate and energy.
Co-hosted by XR PEACE
On 13 May 2020, while Britain was in lockdown, nuclear warheads were taken on public roads from the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Burghfield and Aldermaston in Berkshire, England, to Coulport in Scotland, driving past Oxford, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
The nuclear convoy (snapped by XR Peace members in Nukewatch) broke lockdown rules to drop off warheads intended for US Trident missiles on UK’s nuclear powered submarines at Faslane, Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde. The government’s desire to keep deploying nuclear WMD is hardly a necessity or “good justification” for putting the NHS and British people at more risk if there were an accident.
Britain makes and deploys nuclear weapons and thereby faces especially high risks of nuclear accidents and use. Far from being a “deterrent that keeps us safe”, if the nuclear weapons carried on just one UK nuclear submarine were detonated, the impacts on the whole world would be devastating. Any survivors would face the horrors of climate chaos, nuclear winter, radiation sickness and mass famine.
NO SAFE HANDS FOR NUCLEAR BOMBS
Sending nuclear weapons around England and Scotland is the height of folly, especially in these Covid Times.
Nuclear weapons and power threaten our security, now more than ever
As the Covid-19 pandemic ravages our economy, destroys tens of thousands of lives and jobs, and stretches our NHS and frontline services to breaking point, we cannot afford the extra burden that nuclear weapons add to our emergency services. So why is the Government carrying on with making further nuclear weapons and submarines, with a price tag over £200 billion?
Covid-19 piles up the dangers already connected with nuclear activities. The navy, including HMNB Clyde at Faslane, is badly hit by coronavirus infections. Already struggling under regulatory “special measures” due to years of safety problems, AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield pose even more risks on skeleton staffing. In Cumbria, Barrow, where “Dreadnought” nuclear submarines are being built by BAE Systems, and Sellafield nuclear plant are also struggling with high rates of infection.
The Covid-19 pandemic reminds us of the fragility of our lives, families and countries. Accidents happen, as shown by the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters. US pilots dropped nuclear bombs by mistake on NATO allies Greenland and Spain some years ago, causing serious plutonium contamination. Human error, miscalculations and irresponsible leaders have brought the world to the brink of nuclear war at least 13 times since 1960.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
We support the Black Lives Matter protests against the horrific murder of George Floyd by an armed white policeman in Minneapolis, who used his knee to choke the life out of this unarmed Black man, filmed for over 8 minutes. Several other police officers stood by and did nothing to help Floyd, who gasped over and over again “I can’t breathe” until he lost consciousness and died.
The calls for Justice take place against the backdrop of personal and institutional racism and attitudes of white supremacy that have poisoned the whole history of the United States of America. These Black Lives Matter protests connect unmistakably with the racist-colonialist histories of our own countries as well, that have caused untold human misery for centuries of slavery, rape and lynching, and which continue even now through institutional inequality and discrimination, and the hate and fear embedded in white supremacist narratives.
XR Peace was established last year to highlight the links between the Climate Emergency and military-industrial frameworks, objectives and profiteering connected with weapons and war. The Black Lives Matter movement calls for Action to end racism, Justice for George Floyd and all the other Black Lives destroyed by racism, and for fundamental changes to tackle inequality, prejudice, and abuses of power by police and others in authority. Their demands directly connect with the peace and justice work that we do.
When George Floyd was murdered last week, his six year old daughter lost her father. That’s the human story. The continuation of racist-colonialist military-industrial warmongering and environmental destruction is the shameful history that has brought the whole world to the brink of extinction.
Today – and every day – we must walk shoulder to shoulder with our Black Sisters and Brothers in our lives and campaigns for peace and justice.
Before the coronavirus crisis, XR peace planned to be in the streets from 1st June to raise awareness with our next Rebellion for Climate Security, Peace and Justice. To protect our health, care and frontline workers, as well as all vulnerable people (including ourselves and our families ), we’re putting our protests online for the time being, sharing info and other relevant resources.
Here is the fourth leaflet in our series, which highlights the importance of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), a new, multilateral, UN-negotiated treaty that bans the use, production and deployment of nuclear weapons and requires their total abolition. With over three fifths of the UN General Assembly already supporting the Ban Treaty and only 13 states parties to go before 50 governments complete their national processes for ratification, the TPNW is set to enter into full international legal force very soon. As more states join, the Treaty parties will establish new systems to eliminate the weapons safely and implement the whole Treaty.
XR Peace calls on the UK government to sign this UN Treaty now, take its Trident-based nuclear weapons system off deployment and work with the rest of the world to eliminate all nuclear dangers.
All wars and militarism undermine our security and harm our climate. Nuclear weapons and war cause particularly horrendous suffering and environmental harm, including nuclear winter and mass famine. To prevent this, the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated in the UN and adopted in July 2017 by 122 states with just one vote against and one abstention. As of today, this Nuclear Ban Treaty has 37 states parties and 81 signatory states. The UK and certain other nuclear armed states have not yet signed. Instead they are trying to enhance and build more nuclear weapons, causing huge risks to the whole world.
Help us abolish nuclear weapons before they abolish us
It is 75 years after the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were flattened by the first two nuclear weapons in 1945. Those “small” atomic bombs killed more than 230,000 people. Over 100,000 were killed instantly in the intense fireballs. Then over weeks and months, many more died from burns, blast injuries and in terrible pain from radiation sickness. The atomic bombs had killed and badly injured 90% of the doctors and nurses in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so it was impossible for local services to provide humanitarian help for the thousands of dead and dying.
Setsuko Thurlow was a 13 year old schoolgirl in Hiroshima when the US atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” destroyed her city on 6th August 1945, killing almost all her friends and some family members. She represented the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (at the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony) and spoke at the United Nations about the fear and pain of that experience and the terrible suffering she witnessed, she would remember: “each person who died had a name; each person had someone who loved them”.
Since 1945, the world has been brought close to nuclear war several times due to leadership mistakes and computer errors. We can’t risk more mistakes with nuclear weapons.
Just a fraction of today’s nuclear weapons would contaminate the Earth and cause “nuclear winter“. The mushroom clouds from incinerated cities would disrupt the world’s climate systems and destroy agriculture, natural ecosystems and food resources. Global famine and disease would follow, killing an estimated two billion people.
The “Trident” missiles on just one UK nuclear armed submarine are all it would take to cause climate devastation and nuclear winter.
Despite widespread support in Britain and around the world, the UK government boycotted the UN’s multilateral negotiations and is refusing even to take preparatory steps to comply. Instead, it is pouring billions of pounds into upgrading UK nuclear weapons and submarines.
The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is important because it stigmatises nuclear weapons as inhumane and abhorrent, comprehensively bans these weapons of mass destruction, and then provides legal provisions that governments and multilateral institutions will be able to build on to eliminate all nuclear arsenals safely and securely.
Unlike other nuclear treaties, the TPNW applies to everyone, and clearly prohibits developing, testing, manufacturing, stockpiling, acquiring and possessing nuclear armaments. It bans stationing, installing and deploying nuclear weapons, and also outlaws actions that “assist, encourage or induce” anyone to commit any actions that are prohibited by the Treaty.
Already the Nuclear Ban Treaty is reducing the value of these WMD and diminishing the political power and status that some states and leaders have attached to nuclear arms for far too long.
When it enters into international legal force, which could be in 2020 or soon after, the Nuclear Ban Treaty will help to reduce nuclear risks while working to eliminate them completely. As a Treaty under International Humanitarian Law, the Nuclear Ban Treaty goes beyond the states that are currently reluctant to sign Many of its provisions can also be taken up and applied to nuclear-related activities of banks, investors, manufacturers, city officials, parliamentarians, decision-makers – and all of us!
Before the coronavirus crisis, XR peace planned to be in the streets from 1st June to raise awareness with our next Rebellion for Climate Security, Peace and Justice. To protect our health, care and frontline workers, as well as all vulnerable people (including ourselves and our families ), we’re putting our protests online with a series of leaflets and other relevant resources. Here is the third, which builds on the UN Secretary-General’s call for a Global Ceasefire and includes XR Peace’s five-point action plan to make it happen.
SAVE LIVES, BUILD INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND PEACE
On 23 March, as the Covid-19 coronavirus spread around the world, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire, saying: “End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.”
“Armed conflict rages on around the world. The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price. They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19… Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable.”
Calling for diplomacy and dialogue to tackle the causes of conflict, Guterres referred to the “folly of war” and sounded the clarion call:
“It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives. To warring parties, I say: Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns, stop the artillery, end the airstrikes.”
NO-ONE SHOULD PROFIT FROM VIOLENCE AND DESTRUCTION
A Global Ceasefire is necessary not only in Covid times, but for our future. To make this sustainable, legal and political steps must be taken not only to disarm and demilitarise warmongering groups and states, but also to build greater security, peaceful relations and cooperative institutions at local, regional, national and international levels.
FROM CEASEFIRE TO BUILDING PEACE:
Before the coronavirus crisis, XR peace planned to be in the streets from 1st June to raise awareness with our next Rebellion for Climate Security, Peace and Justice. To protect our health, care and frontline workers, as well as all vulnerable people (including ourselves and our families ), we’re putting our protests online with a series of leaflets and other relevant resources. Here is the second, which recognises that June 4th is “World Day for Child Victims of Aggression”. Children are most at risk of violence where there are men with weapons, from militias and armed police to domestic violence and war.
Millions of children live in conflict, with terrifying threats of physical and sexual violence every day. They see friends and family killed and injured. Some are also injured, raped, or trafficked into sexual slavery, unwanted marriage and pregnancy. Sexual violence is often used to humiliate a population and force people to flee their homes.
Militarism and war add massively to climate destruction. And environmental destruction and climate chaos have become major causes of violent conflicts over land, resources, food and water.
Refugee children are most vulnerable.
VIOLENCE AND WAR DON’T OBEY HUMANITARIAN RULES
The rules of war prohibit the indiscriminate use of weapons, the targeting of civilians and attacks on schools and hospitals. Nuclear weapons are still targeted at cities full of children, from London and Moscow to Delhi and Islamabad. Every day, in conflicts around the world, women and children are killed by guns, grenades and explosive weapons, which are often used in heavily populated areas. Landmines blow up when children are playing in fields near their homes. Cluster munitions look like plastic toys, till they explode in a child’s face.
As noted by UNICEF:
“No method of warfare has been off-limits, no matter how deadly for children: Indiscriminate attacks on schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, abductions, child recruitment, besiegement, abuse in detention and denial of humanitarian assistance…”
DO YOU WANT TO KEEP CHILDREN SAFE?
In the real world, war doesn’t obey humanitarian rules. Neither does climate chaos, a major consequence of military-industrial activities. We have to tackle the climate emergency, support the UN call for a Global Ceasefire, and stop those who make, sell and use weapons.
Before the coronavirus crisis, XR peace planned to be in the streets from 1st June to raise awareness with our next Rebellion for Climate Security, Peace and Justice.
To protect our health, care and frontline workers, as well as all vulnerable people (including ourselves and our families ), we’re putting our protests online with a series of leaflets and other relevant resources. Here is the first:
Have you wondered why the British government was so unprepared when the coronavirus pandemic hit?
The MoD was given billions of pounds to spend on new submarines for Trident nuclear weapons, so why did the government not spend a fraction of that to ensure the NHS would have ICU equipment like ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) for all frontline health and care workers?
Health and security experts have warned about the risks and dangers of a global coronavirus pandemic for years. This deadly threat topped international and UK security analyses, along with climate destruction.
Yet when Covid-19 hit, most governments were woefully unprepared, including in Britain. Despite World Health Organisation (WHO) warnings and UK government exercises like Cygnus, British leaders failed to make adequate preparations. Playing politics with our security, they cut the NHS and care services to the bone, in the name of “austerity”, while allowing stocks of PPE to go out of date without being replaced.
We are now paying the price for the arrogance of politicians who were told the risks but chose to ignore them. Instead the UK poured money into Brexit, unsustainable transport, fossil fuels and vanity projects like HS2 and Trident nuclear weapons. “Defence” and “jobs” were evoked to justify subsidies to arms companies like BAE that make and sell weapons to warmongers, tyrants and human rights violators.
Security doesn’t come from policies that “punch above our weight”. Peace and security depend on good health, schools and care services, safe homes, clean air, food, water, sustainable energy, jobs, incomes.
REAL SECURITY MEANS BEING PREPARED FOR REAL RISKS
The Covid-19 pandemic has shocked us, and we need to change how we think about security. Our lives, jobs and economies have been turned upside down. How can we learn from this upheaval and prevent even worse catastrophes in the future?
We hope that a vaccine will be developed that can bring the frightening rates of infection and death down. But there can be no vaccines or quick fixes to prevent nuclear war and irreversible climate destruction. These threats are real, and could end all life on Earth.
Climate chaos is happening now. Over 13,500 nuclear weapons deployed by nine States pose huge dangers to our security every day.
RETHINK SECURITY AND MAKE URGENT CHANGES NOW, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE