The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes resolutions passed this week by Edinburgh City Council and Midlothian Council which promotes their support for a nuclear weapons free world. They follow on from resolutions made by other NFLA members as part of campaigns to support the International Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and to encourage divestment from Council pension fund investments in companies developing nuclear weapons or fossil fuels.
Edinburgh City Council are the latest Council to formally pass a resolution to support the TPNW, the International Treaty that seeks to encourage multilateral nuclear disarmament. (1) In July 2017, 122 UN member states agreed to this treaty, and at present 70 states have signed it with 23 having ratified it through their Parliaments. Kazakhstan are shortly to be the 24th state to ratify the treaty after its Parliament agreed to the treaty this week. When 50 states ratify the TPNW it will become a part of international law. The Republic of Ireland are expected to be one of these states when the Treaty gets discussed in the Dail shortly.
However, a vocal group of around 40 states, including the current nuclear weapon states like the United Kingdom, NATO states and those often referred to as nuclear ‘umbrella’ states with security agreements with nuclear weapon states, such as Japan and Australia, have stubbornly refused to engage with this multilateral disarmament process.
Edinburgh’s resolution passed today is similar to those made by a large number of towns and cities as part of an initiative cooperating with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate. The ‘ICAN Cities Appeal’ seeks to show to the national governments that oppose the TPNW that there remains strong public support urging them to engage with this diplomatic process.
In the UK, Edinburgh follows in the footsteps of similar resolutions passed by Manchester, Renfrewshire and Hebden Royd Councils. Globally they join with almost 100 towns and cities, as well as the American State legislatures of California and Oregon and the New Jersey Assembly. As the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh follows other capital cities likes Sydney, Washington DC, Paris, Berlin, Berne and Oslo. (2)
NFLA encourages other UK members of NFLA, and of its partner organisation Mayors for Peace, to pass a similar resolution. NFLA also welcomes the strong support for multilateral nuclear disarmament in the Republic of Ireland and its active involvement in this issue.
NFLA also warmly welcomes a separate resolution on a similarly important issue that was passed unanimously passed by Midlothian Council earlier this week. The ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ Scotland group have calculated that Council pension schemes within the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme holds shares worth approximately £294 million in 14 companies that undertake nuclear weapons related work. ICAN have calculated globally (in a joint report with the Dutch group PAX) that there are currently 325 financial institutions from 28 countries investing over $748 billion in the top 18 companies involved in producing nuclear weapons (4)
The Midlothian Council resolution calls on the Lothian Pension Fund to divest from companies involved in producing nuclear weapons, taking account of the fiduciary duty. (5) Midlothian Council follows on from similar resolutions passed by Renfrewshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Council, which also includes concern over investments in fossil fuel companies. NFLA members in Scotland have taken a real interest in this issue in recent meetings held in Glasgow and Dundee, and the resolutions are part of a campaign widening out across member authorities in the UK and Ireland calling for ethical considerations to be a part of the thinking in Council pension fund investments, encouraging them to promote renewable low carbon energy and a nuclear-weapons-free and more peaceful world.
NFLA warmly welcome Midlothian’s unanimously agreed resolution and call on other Councils to take a similar action.
NFLA Scotland Convener Councillor Feargal Dalton said:
“I am delighted that Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils have passed strongly worded resolutions calling for multilateral nuclear disarmament and divestment from shares in companies involved in producing nuclear weapons. They send out a strong message that local government wants to see real change to bring about a safer world. With all the current alarming risks of nuclear confrontation with Iran, North Korea and the United States, and the apparent breakdown of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and Russia, now is the time for those who want to see peaceful and dynamic progress with nuclear disarmament to stand up. The Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty and divestment from nuclear weapon companies are powerful ways to show solidarity with the progressive majority of states that seek a safer and more peaceful world. NFLA is proud to be a part of that coalition.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Edinburgh City Council resolution to support the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, passed 27th June 2019 – to download a full version of the agree resolution see
(2) ICAN Cities Appeal – http://nuclearban.org/cities
(3) Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland report on the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme
(4) ICAN Don’t Bank on the Bomb report, June 5th 2019
(5) Midlothian Council resolution calling for Lothian Pension Fund to divest from companies involved in the development of nuclear weapons, passed 25th June 2019:
- Midlothian Council is a member of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) the national body of Councils working for almost 4 decades to promote multilateral nuclear disarmament and a more peaceful world.
- Lothian Pension Fund manages the pension contributions of Council employees. Lothian Pension Fund is known to hold shares in companies that are involved in the production or maintenance of nuclear weapons or their delivery systems, including some that undertake work on the UK’s nuclear weapons programme.
Midlothian Council therefore calls on Lothian Pension Fund to:
- Work towards eliminating current and future financial exposure to companies that are involved in the production or maintenance of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, giving due regard to fiduciary duty.
- Council asks the Chief Executive to write to the convenor of Lothian Pension Funds pension committee to urge them to take full consideration of this resolution.