The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is delighted to see the 48th, 49th and 50th states to ratify the International Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) over the 23rd and 24th October, meaning that this treaty can now enter into force as part of international disarmament law.
As a member of the coalition of groups that makes up the Nobel Peace Laureate group the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and a partner with the Mayors for Peace group, NFLA sees the 50th ratification as a historic milestone in the renewed and reinvigorated movement for a nuclear weapons free world.
Jamaica, Nauru and Honduras formally ratified the treaty as part of the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the first resolution of the United Nations, which itself had called for a world free from nuclear weapons. With 50 states – and quite surely more to follow – now having ratified the TPNW a 90 day period of it entering into force begins, and it will became a part of international law at the United Nations in late January 2021.
NFLA notes the comments of ICAN’s Executive Director, Beatrice Fihn, who said on Saturday:
“This is a new chapter for nuclear disarmament. Decades of activism have achieved what many said was impossible: nuclear weapons are banned.”
The Hiroshima hibakusha, Setsuko Thurlow, also added to the ICAN statement:
“I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty. This is the first time in international law that we have been so recognized. We share this recognition with other hibakusha across the world, those who have suffered radioactive harm from nuclear testing, from uranium mining, from secret experimentation.” (1)
NFLA also welcomes the statement of the Mayors for Peace on the 50th ratification, to which the Lord Mayor of Manchester – our host authority – is a co-signatory:
“Mayors for Peace wholeheartedly welcomes the momentous occasion of the number of states ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) reaching fifty. We would like to rejoice at this moment from the bottom of our hearts with our member cities, their citizens, our partner peace NGOs, and most importantly, with the hibakusha, who long more than anyone else for a world without nuclear weapons. They have each gone through the indescribably painful experience of the humanitarian devastation caused by the atomic bombings, yet continue their efforts based on their unshakable conviction that ‘no one else should suffer as we have’. We especially must never forget the historical fact that their voices have pushed international society forward and led to the conclusion of the treaty.” (2)
This milestone will now move the TPNW on to a full legislative footing and play a role in the international discussions at the United Nations over nuclear weapons, potentially complementing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A conference of TPNW States Parties will need to take place within a year of the treaty entering into force and it is likely to form part of the discussion within the upcoming NPT Review Conference, which is still planned to take place before the end of April 2021.
Whilst nuclear weapon states, NATO states and other states who have security agreements with the nuclear weapon states have remained opposed to the TPNW process, it is clear that they will have to start engaging with it. Indeed, media reports suggest the United States was lobbying some of the states that have ratified the TPNW to reverse such ratifications, indicating some concern from them with the momentum that has taken place within it. (3)
Across the world, towns and cities located in states which have opposed the TPNW have passed resolutions giving their own support for it, and called on their governments to start engaging with this disarmament process. A number of prominent UK towns and cities have passed such resolutions, with the most recent being Hastings Borough Council last week. There are now approaching around 500 towns, cities and counties who support the ICAN Cities Appeal. (4)
Next week will see the NFLA commemorate the 40th anniversary of its creation following ‘nuclear free’ declarations by a number of prominent cities, including its host authority at Manchester. It seems apt that this recent milestone comes so close to the NFLA’s 40th anniversary. A special webinar will look at its origins, its partnerships and its ongoing relevance. (5) NFLA is also planning to cooperate on a joint webinar with the European Mayors for Peace Chapter and ICAN on the 4th December which will consider the state of peace and security in Europe. (6)
NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I warmly welcome the 50th state ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons meaning that it will now enter into force early in 2021. This milestone has come from the tireless work of civil society groups in cooperation with the large number of non-nuclear weapon states who want to see the stalemate in disarmament talks finally unlocked with renewed determination. As an organisation set up to call for the ban of the bomb, it is wonderful to see nuclear disarmament finally take a real and substantive step forward. It is a wonderful 40th birthday present for us. Much work is still required to persuade those opposed to the TPNW of its compatibility with the NPT regime, but NFLA and others will continue to campaign for that ultimate goal of a world free from nuclear weapons.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244
Notes to Editors:
(1) ICAN media release, 24th October 2020
(2) Mayors for Peace statement on the TPNW’s 50th ratification, 24th October 2020
(4) ICAN Cities Appeal
(5) NFLA 40th anniversary webinar, 6th November 2020 – a flyer is attached with this media release.
(6) A European Mayors for Peace Chapter, ICAN and NFLA webinar on European peace and security will take place on the 4th December 2020. A flyer advertising it will be published on the 2nd November on each organisation’s website.