The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), in partnership with the UK and Ireland Mayors for Peace Chapter, welcomes tomorrow’s formal launch in the Palace of Westminster of the latest global tour by the Norwegian group ‘Bike for Peace’. (1)
Bike for Peace was established in 1978 by Tore Naerland, a 90% blind peace campaigner who rides on a tandem bike and has organises many bike tours which have brought communities from both sides of conflict areas together. They also promote in other tours the values of peace and their core wish of supporting strategies to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.
Both NFLA and Mayors for Peace have supported recent Bike for Peace tours, including its last global tour of 2014, a tour of Scotland in 2014 and a recent tour from Manchester – Warrington Peace Centre – Liverpool in 2018.
The latest tour will commence with a special launch event in Room W2 at Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster. Speakers include Caroline Lucas MP, Tore Naerland, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson, CND Vice President Bruce Kent and NFLA / Mayors for Peace Chapter Secretary Sean Morris. (2) Meetings with other MPs are also being planned during Bike for Peace’s time in London, such as with Shadow Peace and Disarmament Minister, Fabian Hamilton MP.
The core aims of the tour will be to promote the need of developing a more peaceful and nuclear weapons free world, of the positive low carbon use of cycling as a mode of transport and of seeking a greater role for the United Nations in the debate over reducing the global stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Bike for Peace will move on from Westminster to Rochester in Kent and then will have legs of the global tour in France, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, the United States – with a special meeting at the United Nations headquarters – and it will conclude in Norway over the next four months.
The bike tour comes at a time of great political challenge in the UK and an increasing and concerning amount of unilateral measures in the nuclear weapons field, such as both the United States and Russia suspending the INF Treaty on nuclear weapons – a core component of nuclear détente in the Cold War era. NFLA hopes the upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim John-un in Vietnam this week provides some positive news amidst all these alarming, negative trends.
Another promising development is that South Africa yesterday became the 22nd state to formally ratify the International Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. South Africa is the only country in the world to have had a nuclear weapons programme, to then dismantle it and to become a leading member of the growing coalition to prohibit all nuclear weapons. It is expected the Treaty will become international law later this year or early 2020. NFLA call on other nuclear weapon states like the UK Government to follow in the footsteps of South Africa’s transformation to become a nuclear disarmament champion. (3)
NFLA Steering Committee and English Forum Chair Cllr David Blackburn said:
“I warmly welcome the global launch of the Bikes for Peace tour tomorrow in Westminster. For years Bike for Peace has been a tireless campaigning group for bringing communities together and working with others for a more peaceful and nuclear weapons free world. I hope their latest global tour is a great success. The tour comes at a time of real stress in nuclear weapons diplomacy where negative unilateral action is taking place rather than multilateral nuclear disarmament. It is therefore so heartening to see the decisive action taken by South Africa in transforming itself from a nuclear weapon state to a disarmament champion in a process originally initiated by Nobel Peace Laureate Nelson Mandela. NFLA will continue to work with Mayors for Peace and the Nobel Peace Laureate ICAN to call for further transformation in this area – including seeing the UK finally give up its own outmoded and hugely expensive nuclear weapons programme.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Bike for Peace – https://www.bikeforpeace.no/
(2) Bike for Peace World Tour Launch Event – Wednesday 27th February 2019, 10.30am – 12pm in Room W2, Westminster Hall, Houses of Parliament (Cromwell Green entrance).
(3) ICAN – South Africa: from nuclear armed state to disarmament hero, February 25th 2019