Representatives from the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) will attend a special event held in Westminster tomorrow which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). NFLA welcome this notable milestone and will continue to cooperate with CND and other groups, like ICAN and Mayors for Peace, for the joint objective of seeing a world without nuclear weapons.
In a time when the dangers of the Cold War was rapidly increasing, and hundreds of nuclear weapon tests were taking place around the world, CND was established at a special meeting attended by over 5,000 people in Westminster Central Hall on the 17th February 1958. Canon John Collins was appointed its first chairperson, Bertrand Russell its President and Peggy Duff its first Secretary. Events have been held all across the country by local CND branches last weekend to celebrate the anniversary.
Throughout its history CND has galvanised public concern over Britain’s nuclear weapon policy and promoted the need for peaceful alternatives. Its famous logo has become globally known as the international symbol of peace.
NFLA also originates from the concern around a nuclear weapons conflict in the early 1980s and the potential for either a deliberate attack or an accidental use of such weapons. While CND has sought to challenge the public and politicians over nuclear weapons, NFLA has encouraged its members to consider the humanitarian consequences on towns and cities from a use of nuclear weapons. It has also consistently raised concerns over the local impacts of a major accident involving one of the regular road convoys of nuclear weapons from West Berkshire (where the weapons are developed in Aldermaston and Burghfield) up to the west of Scotland (at the Royal Navy bases in Faslane and Coulport). (1)
Reflecting on CND’s 60th anniversary, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson notes:
“Reading government documents and diaries years later, one can see how the pressure of public opinion and mass mobilisation really does have an impact, and each generation of CND has played a part in that. The banning of nuclear tests in the atmosphere is one very important example; another is the abandoning of the neutron bomb (designed to kill people while leaving property intact) or Nixon’s pulling back from using nukes on Vietnam. Above all, we have helped instil a sense, in the popular consciousness – and thereby in that of our political leaders – that use of nuclear weapons would be a catastrophe, an unthinkable tragedy.” (2)
NFLA has also sought to instil such a sense of the huge risks with nuclear weapons in local and national political leaders over the past near 40 years of its activity. For many years it has also worked with the 7,500+ members of Mayors for Peace, led by the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who know so much about the impact of a nuclear weapon attack on a large city.
In 2017, NFLA warmly welcomed the signing of the UN International Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, which should be ratified later this year. It also welcomed the decision to award the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) with the Nobel Peace Prize. Both NFLA and CND are members of the ICAN coalition. NFLA will continue to work within the ICAN coalition and with the Mayors for Peace for achieving its ultimate aim of global nuclear disarmament. A joint seminar is taking place in
Leeds Civic Hall considering all these issues and encouraging connections between Councils and the public to promote peace at the local, national and global level. (3)
NFLA English Forum Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I welcome the 60th anniversary of CND and its positive role over the past 6 decades to represent the majority of public opinion wishing to see nuclear disarmament. As members of ICAN, we are both part of the global Nobel Peace Prize winning coalition seeking to change hearts and minds in bringing about the great goal of a nuclear weapons free world. In what feels like one of the most unstable times in modern history it is important now more than ever that, by working with the Mayors for Peace and ICAN, we cooperate with the large majority of states calling for nuclear disarmament to persuade the small minority of nuclear weapon states to abandon such destructive weaponry. Peace always remains a difficult goal to achieve, but it is one we all should be involved in.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) For more information on the concerns around the hazards of nuclear weapon road convoys, see the ICAN UK booklet, ‘The Nukes of Hazard’, http://nukesofhazard.co.uk
(2) CND at 60, article for the Independent by the General Secretary, Kate Hudson, 17th February 2018 http://www.cnduk.org/cnd-media/item/3744-cnd-at-60
(3) Joint NFLA / Mayors for Peace seminar, East Room, Leeds Civic Hall, 23rd March 2018, 1.30pm – 3.30pm
‘Delivering disarmament and peace – a critical year’
- Fabian Hamilton MP, Shadow Minister for Peace & Disarmament and PNND member – How can peace and disarmament be delivered in the UK & Ireland?
- Dr Rebecca Johnson, Steering Committee member of the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) – Embedding the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty.
- Carolyn Leary, Programme Director, CRESST Sheffield (Conflict Resolution for Young People) – A case study of promoting conflict resolution to young people.
- Sean Morris, NFLA and Mayors for Peace Chapter Secretary – Developing the Chapter and cooperating at the European level.