As a local authority group originally established to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the United Nations annual International Day to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, which is now held each year on the 26th September. (1) NFLA is also pleased to note that its member Fife Council has become the fifth UK Council to pass a resolution supporting the International Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
The international security system is now under greater stress than at any time since the end of the Cold War. This year has seen the United States and Russia abrogate from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, with ongoing concern over the bilateral START nuclear weapons reduction treaty as well. Tensions over Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programme have dominated concerns over a potential breakdown of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The House of Lords International Relations Committee have said this regime is under great strain in a recent inquiry on these matters. (2)
The core positive development with this issue is that an increasing number of states are signing and ratifying the TPNW. Overnight Ecuador became the 27th state to formally ratify the Treaty and hand these documents to the United Nations (UN) Disarmament Secretariat. At a special event later today, around a meeting of the UN General Assembly, a number of other states are expected to also pass their ratifications to the UN. This increases the likelihood of the Treaty becoming a formalised UN international treaty (which occurs when 50 states have ratified a treaty) in 2020, the 75th anniversary of the atomic weapon attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President and Vice President of the Mayors for Peace – who NFLA work closely with.
As it will be towns and cities that are the locations of any malicious or accidental use of nuclear weapons, cooperation has been taking place this past year with Mayors for Peace and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate, to encourage municipalities to pass resolutions supporting the TPNW.
As a result, across the world many towns and cities have now passed resolutions as part of this ‘ICAN Cities Appeal’ initiative. These include such prominent cities as Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Paris, Berlin, Bruges, Zaragoza, Washington DC, Oslo, Geneva, Sydney and Toronto. A full list of signatories can be found on the ICAN ‘nuclear ban’ website. (3)
Today, Fife Council became the fifth council in the UK to pass a resolution supporting the TPNW, and NFLA congratulates the cross-party support that was involved in passing it at the Council meeting.
Fife joins Manchester, Renfrewshire, Edinburgh and Hebden Royd Town Council in passing resolutions supporting the TPNW within the ICAN Cities Appeal initiative. A special event was held in the Scottish Parliament today where Edinburgh Councillor Steve Burgess handed a copy of the Council’s resolution to members of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Nuclear Weapons, who were celebrating the support of many MSP’s for the TPNW, through an ICAN Parliamentarians Pledge. (4)
UK & Ireland NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I am delighted to hear that Fife Council has passed a resolution to support the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on the same day as the International Day for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Such resolutions send a powerful message that towns, cities and counties do not want to ever be the theatre for a new nuclear weapon conflict. They also tell the UK Government that there is local cross-party support for multilateral nuclear disarmament and support for the values of the Mayors for Peace and ICAN. I welcome that so many states are ratifying this important treaty and encourage more to do so. I am aware that the Irish Parliament are currently debating the Treaty, the Scottish Parliament has majority support for the TPNW and I wish we could have the same type of debate in the UK Parliament. The growing global insecurity must worry us all, so it is all the more important that we can offer solidarity for this peaceful initiative that Fife Council have just endorsed.”
Fife Council NFLA representative and proposer of the motion Councillor David Barratt said:
“I’m delighted to have received the support of both colleagues in the SNP and Labour Groups in supporting the ICAN Cities Motion today, reinforcing Fife’s opposition to nuclear weapons. While we have very limited power in isolation, we can now add the voice of Fife Council to many cities, towns and local authorities across the world in calling for our governments to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) United Nations –
(2) House of Lords International Relations Committee report, 24th April 2019
(3) ICAN Cities Appeal signatories –
(4) CND Scotland / ICAN Scotland network media release, 25th September –