Press release: 18th September 2015 For immediate use Holyrood Hosts Key Disarmament Meeting

Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (Scottish Branch)

The Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Scottish branch (1), is very pleased to announce that the Austrian Disarmament Ambassador will contribute to a special public meeting in the Scottish Parliament to look at how gender issues stand in the way of global nuclear disarmament,

Ambassador Alexander Kmentt is Austria’s Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and was elected 2014 “Arms Control Person of the Year”. (2) He initiated the Austrian Pledge to eliminate nuclear weapons which is now signed up to by 117 world states, and will be welcomed to Scotland by the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP.

The meeting is the latest of several annual meetings supported by WILPF or Scottish CND at which civic society and parliamentarians can come together around the UN International Peace Day. It will be chaired by Bill Kidd MSP, and falls on the same day as the MSP will be leading a debate (2) on the UK’s responsibility for the nuclear genetic damage imposed on the people of the Marshall Islands.

Mia Gandenberger, Reaching Critical Will (RCW) (4) Associate Director from Geneva will also speak, along with Claire Duncanson, Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. Claire’s background is in practical human rights NGO work and her research interests “lie at the intersection of international security, IR theory and gender politics, ” and include a recent critique of the Trident Replacement White paper. Mia hopes to “to increase the quality and quantity of civil society preparation and participation in UN disarmament processes” (3). Rebecca Sharkey, from the International Campaign to Abolish nuclear Weapons (ICAN) (4) UK will chair a participative discussion at the end of the meeting. (4)

Ambassador Kmentt said

I am delighted to have the opportunity to be in Edinburgh to talk about the humanitarian consequences and risks of nuclear weapons and the strong international momentum that has been built in the past few years to engage in a different kind of discourse about this weaponry.

The conclusions are clear: the broad range of humanitarian and developmental consequences of nuclear weapons is significantly graver than previously understood, and so are the risks of accidents and technical or human errors. These conclusions should lead to an urgent reappraisal and change in the discourse about these weapons of mass destruction.More than three quarters of the international community have expressed their deep concern about the humanitarian consequences in cross-regional declarations in the United Nations. The “Humanitarian Pledge” to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, initiated by Austrian last year, has also been formally endorsed by 117 States to date. I am aware, of course, that nuclear weapons are an issue that is intensely discussed in Scotland and I look forward to the opportunity to present the humanitarian initiative to a wider audience here in Scotland”

Contacts: Janet Fenton 07795594573


1. WILPF is the world’s oldest women’s peace organisation and has been campaigning locally and globally against nuclear weapons since their inception. Reaching Critical Will (RCW) is the disarmament project at the WILPF United Nations offices in New York and Geneva, which has promoted and enabled NGO and civic participation at international high level diplomatic efforts. http://www.wilpf.org.uk/get-involved/scottish-branch/

2.SEE http://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-foreign-policy/disarmament/weapons-of-mass-destruction/nuclear-weapons-and-nuclear-terrorism/vienna-conference-on-the-humanitarian-impact-of-nuclear-weapons/



3.SEE Motion S4M-13558: Bill Kidd, Glasgow Anniesland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2015

  1. SEE http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/