Mayors for Peace UK / Ireland Chapter and NFLA media release
Local authorities working for peace in the UK and Ireland will be celebrating the first ‘banniversary’ of the UN treaty making nuclear weapons illegal (22 January).
The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Treaty) entered into force on the 22 January 2021, 90 days after the fiftieth nation ratified acceptance of it.
The Treaty requires signatory states to undertake not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, deploy, use, or threaten to use nuclear weapons or permit or support other states to do so. The Treaty also requires any state which is a party to the treaty to provide assistance to persons and communities affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons and to work to clear up land contaminated by such activities which lies under its jurisdiction or control.(1)
Across the world, campaigners will be celebrating the first so-called ‘banniversary’, and the huge progress that has been made in the cause of advancing nuclear disarmament over the last year, in advance of a much-anticipated First Meeting of the States Parties currently scheduled to be hosted by Vienna, Austria between 22-24 March 2022.
59 UN member states have now ratified their acceptance of the Treaty and a further 27 have signed and are currently in the process of doing so. 101 financial institutions across the world representing almost $4 trillion have also announced they will shun further investment in nuclear weapons because of the Treaty.(2)
The UK / Ireland Chapter of the international Mayors for Peace movement and the UK / Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities will be amongst the many organisations celebrating the date. Both are partner organisations of ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons).
Born out of the frustration that the UN Non-Proliferation Treaty had failed to deliver nuclear disarmament after almost half-a-century, ICAN, a global coalition of civil society, faith and peace organisations, atomic bomb and test survivors, scientists, doctors, academics and concerned world citizens, began to work for a treaty ban.(3) Their work led to the Treaty being adopted by 122 of the world’s states at the United Nations on 7 July 2017 and later that year, ICAN and its partners were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Subsequently ICAN worked with these states to bring the Treaty into law.
Commenting, Manchester City Councillor Eddy Newman, speaking on behalf of the UK / Ireland Chapter of Mayors for Peace, said:
“In the past, similar treaties have banned germ and chemical weapons, landmines, and cluster bombs and in the last year we have already achieved so much as a world community in moving forward a nuclear weapons ban. However there remain many challenges. Yesterday (20 January), the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced that the Doomsday Clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight in recognition that our world faces many grave threats. One, which is existential, is the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation. Despite world opinion favouring nuclear disarmament, the nuclear weapon armed states, amongst them the United Kingdom, continue to refuse to engage with this Treaty and continue to renege upon their solemn promise made over 50 years ago as signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to do so.”
The Chair of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities Steering Committee, Leeds City Councillor David Blackburn, added:
“Although the Republic of Ireland has creditably signed the Treaty, one of our priorities as Mayors for Peace Councils and Nuclear Free Local Authorities in the UK must be to continue to put pressure on the UK Government to engage with the treaty. One way to do this is to ask our member Councils to pass resolutions calling on the government to do so. This will be a priority for both of our organisations over the coming year. Leeds and Manchester are both amongst the UK Councils which have already passed such resolutions, and we hope many more will do so in 2022.(4)”
For more information please contact:
Richard Outram, UK / Ireland Mayors for Peace / NFLA Secretary
Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org / 07583 097793
(1) United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs – Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons
(2) ICAN New report: 101 financial institutions say no to nuclear weapons
(3) ICAN https://www.icanw.org/
(4) The list of cities and towns that have passed the resolution in the UK can be found at https://cities.icanw.org/list_of_cities