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People power vs planetary problems

Protest is having an effect — that’s why the powers that be are cracking down, writes CND general secretary KATE HUDSON ahead of this Sunday's international conference

IS IT a taste of things to come? This week the police slapped a Section 14 order on Extinction Rebellion protesters across the whole of London. This is an unprecedented attack on the right to protest and is of grave concern to us all.

The right to protest was hard won and we cannot see it eroded or stripped away by the Johnson government. The police may have served the order but it could not happen without the say-so of this deeply backward and reactionary government.

So this is the time to strengthen, celebrate and defend our movements. The upsurge in activity in recent weeks and months has been a joy to behold. Last month we saw not only the climate strike but the powerful protests at DSEI arms fair, against the trade in death which blights countless lives.

The sight of hundreds of people blockading, singing and peacefully protesting was inspirational. And people power is what we need, whether it’s at the arms fair, on the streets against the Prime Minister’s recent attack on parliamentary democracy or in opposition to climate change and the burning of our planet.

We won’t let the attacks and bans push us out of activity, intimidate us or prevent us from working to build the kind of just and peaceful world that we want to see.

On the contrary, CND and so many others will step up our work. CND is a proud movement. We acknowledge our history, our collective achievements, how we have fought against nuclear weapons and war, against brutality and injustice.

Our founders lit the flame of peace sixty years ago and our members over the decades have carried it forward. We are not going to be stopped from advancing our just cause — and we want you to join with us.

We pride ourselves on being a grassroots organisation. We are democratic and led by our members. Every year we elect our leadership and vote on our political and campaigning priorities for the year ahead.

That process is taking place this Saturday at our AGM policy conference where members gather 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. Why not get involved?

On Sunday we open our doors to the public, working with the International Peace Bureau to present an international conference, entitled “21st Century Security: challenges and solutions.” We are delighted to welcome a range of international speakers, from partner organisations, including from Gensuikyo, the Japanese anti-nuclear campaign.

And the focus is not only on nuclear weapons; we include workshops on climate change, the right to protest and resource wars, as well as keynote speeches on nuclear disarmament in the age of Trump, and the implications of the rise of China.

Our security and wellbeing are being severely challenged by climate change, the start of a new Cold War and the huge and widening gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

The systematic destruction of arms control treaties and disregard for international law by some world leaders have led to a new nuclear arms race and widespread concerns about national and global security. These problems are interlinked with a growth in the politics of nationalism, self-protection and prejudice.

None of these problems can be solved nationally — all require an international solution — hence CND is working with activists and experts from around the world, providing a global take on the problems we are facing.

To ensure our survival, humanity must come together, organise and co-operate on a global scale never seen before. Activists from across the world can show the way and we must link the struggles across movements and borders to help us achieve a global voice.

The rapidity with which we have seen these challenges emerge is startling, but the response is accelerating too, and people are finding their power. Please join us this weekend to discuss the way forward.

International Conference: 21st Century Security: challenges and solutions Sunday 20th October 2019, St Thomas’ Hospital, London from 10.30am to 4.30pm — www.cnduk.org.

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