As a member of the coalition that makes up the Nobel Peace Laureate International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes a new European opinion poll which shows significant support for the removal of nuclear weapons from the continent.
The 7th July will be the first anniversary of the momentous decision of over two thirds of United Nations members to agree to the creation of an International Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The 11th state to formally ratify that treaty, Costa Rica, did so yesterday and it is expected that the treaty will be fully ratified and become a part of international law in 2019. ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on realising agreement for this treaty and on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.
NFLA recently attended a meeting of the ICAN UK Steering Group and fully supports ICAN’s international objectives to:
- Achieve entry into force of the TPNW (50 state ratifications) and achieve 100 state signatories.
- Ensure states are prepared for the first meeting of states party (to take place within a year of entry into force of the treaty).
- Increase the pressure nationally on nuclear armed (like the UK) and dependent states using the treaty.
- Strengthen the international norm established by the treaty of the illegality and unacceptability of nuclear weapons.
NFLA was established in 1980 to call for nuclear disarmament and it is proud to be a member of ICAN. It is also a strong supporter of the Mayors for Peace, which is led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and of which Manchester is a Vice President. This week, as part of its commitment to promote a more peaceful world, Manchester launched a new edition and website of the Manchester City Centre Children’s Peace Trail. This Trail notes the positive work of ICAN and Mayors for Peace within it. (1)
NFLA note that ICAN has commissioned a poll by You Gov that considers public attitudes in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands to the continuing presence of US nuclear weapons on their soil.
In the four countries, there was strong public support that these nuclear weapons should be removed and returned to the United States. In the poll, 70% of Germans, 65% of Italians, 57% of Belgians and 56% of Dutch people answered that they think US nuclear weapons should be removed from their country. (2)
In the UK, the most recent opinion poll on these matters, which asked the question of whether the UK Government should be actively involved in talks on the TPNW, noted that 75% of the public wanted the Government to actively engage in talks around nuclear disarmament. (3)
While over 15,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world, 200 of which are in the UK, the NFLA will continue to work with the Mayors for Peace and ICAN to call for reductions in these stockpiles and advocate for multilateral nuclear disarmament around the world. It is clear that there is considerable support for such work, despite the intransigence of existing nuclear weapon states and some of their supporters. With nuclear weapon free zones (agreed by international treaty) in Latin America, Africa, parts of Asia, Oceania and Antarctica, the ICAN opinion poll shows there is public support to pursue such a zone in Europe.
NFLA Steering Committee Vice-Chair, Councillor Bill Butler said:
“NFLA is proud to be part of the ICAN network and in working closely with the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Mayors for Peace. On the first anniversary of the agreement to create a Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons it remains clear that the large majority of states will ratify it, but an important number will not. Indeed, the UK, France, US, Russia and China are all planning to renew their nuclear weapons programmes. It remains imperative for all those who wish to see a world free of nuclear weapons to continue to dedicate themselves to this goal and find new and innovative strategies to change the mindsets of governments and the public of nuclear weapon states. The ICAN poll shows that the majority of people in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands wants to see the removal of nuclear weapons from the likes. It is time for European states to take account of such opinion.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) The Manchester Children’s Peace Trail can be downloaded from http://www.manchesterpeacetrail.org.uk
The Manchester Adults Peace Trail is part of an EU funded programme with 6 other European cities – Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Turin, Budapest and The Hague – and further details can be found at http://www.discoverpeace.eu
(3) Acronym Institute, 24th March 2017