Our very own Shelia Triggs spoke at the Nobel Prize Die-In demo outside of the MOD on Saturday. The Nobel Peace Prize this year was awarded to ICAN, for its efforts in pushing the UN global nuclear ban treaty. Sadly, the UK refused to vote for the treaty, or sign up to it. So whilst Saturday was a happy day, and one that we should celebrate, it also reminds us how much more we have to do to achieve nuclear disarmament.

You can see Shelia give her wonderful speech below.

The full transcript of Shelia’s speech can be read below:

I  am speaking today for WILPF, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  Our 100 year old membership organisation is a vociferous supporter of nuclear abolition.  Right back to 1949 we passed a resolution asking the UN to “secure the prohibition” of atomic weapons and “the destruction of all existing stock”

Civil Society has played a uniquely important role in the conferences, preparations and discussion and the finalizing the text of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, (TPNW) .  It would not have happened without us!  And we deserve the Nobel Peace Prize that has been awarded to ICAN  – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – of which our organisations are all engaged members!!

WILPF at the International level has been particularly active through our role as a steering group member of ICAN.  WILPF has mobilised across the globe  – we are in all continents  and nearly 40 countries.  We have been advocates, including with governments, we have developed policy briefs and conducted research, and we have spoken out on media and social media.

A strong delegation of well-informed campaigners including 4 Wilpfers travelled from Scotland to the negotiations in New York where history was made on 7 July when nuclear weapons were banned.

And although it came as a surprise, it is absolutely fitting that the work of ICAN is tomorrow being recognised by the award of the Nobel Prize for Peace.  Thank you to the Nobel Prize Committee which has ‘got it right’ this year at least.

At the UN 122 governments – the great majority of the UN, adopted the new treaty in July.  The Ban Treaty opened for signature on 20th September and already over 50 states have signed it.  This treaty bans possessing, testing, using, developing, or assisting with nuclear weapons.

It also includes provisions for assisting victims of nuclear weapons use and testing, and environmental remediation. WILPF is particularly proud that this is the first treaty to recognise the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on indigenous people and on women.

Women have a 50% higher risk of developing and dying of cancer as a result of ionizing radiation.  This is an important aspect of nuclear violence that is often overlooked, but is now referenced in the preamble of the new treaty, along with reference to the importance of women’s participation in disarmament. The inclusion of these points in the final version of the treaty is significant and was one focal point of WILPF’s advocacy, to strengthen the language in the text over the course of the negotiations.  We pushed for a strong, comprehensive treaty to make a difference in the world.

This treaty was conceived of as a tool that could help change the politics and economics of nuclear weapons. And it is already having an impact on opinions about nuclear weapons.  Something that is banned meets with disapproval.   It provides a solid foundation to change policies and practices.   As Beatrice Fihn the head of ICAN says it gives us a window of opportunity to change attitudes.

Setsuko Thurlow the Hiroshima survivor who will be jointly receiving the prize tomorrow, said in her closing statement to the negotiating conference on July 7th “This is the beginning of the end of Nuclear Weapons”

Civil Society  in the UK – that’s us – now has a massive task to make Britain the first Nuclear Weapons country to sign the Ban treaty and to set an example to the world and to start us all on the road to Peace and Freedom.