The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the passing of resolutions by East Ayrshire Council and Oxford City Council at recent meetings that support the multilateral Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as the most effective way forward to a world free of such weapons.
NFLA and Mayors for Peace member East Ayrshire Council passed two resolutions at a recent Council meeting. One calls on support for the TPNW and encourages the UK Government to engage in multilateral nuclear disarmament, whilst the other mandates the Chief Executive of the Council to write to the Strathcylde Local Authorities Pension Scheme calling on it to divest funds from companies involved in nuclear weapons assembly and production (Renfrewshire, Midlothian, Fife, West Dunbartonshire and Norwich have passed similar divestment resolutions, which NFLA strongly supports). (1)
At its meeting yesterday, Mayors for Peace member Oxford City Council passed a similar resolution to East Ayrshire, at which all councillors voted for it. The proposer of the resolution was Councillor John Tanner, who said at the meeting: “Replacing Trident missiles is costing Britain a huge £205 billion, twice the cost of the high-speed rail line, HS2. Nuclear weapons are costly, outdated and ineffective. Most countries, including Ireland, Germany and Japan, manage perfectly well without them.” (2)
The decisions by the two Councils adds to over 230 towns and cities worldwide who have passed resolutions calling on support for the multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty that was agreed by 122 nations at the United Nations in July 2017. These include cities like Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Berlin, Paris, Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, Geneva, Oslo, Nijmegen, Zaragoza, Brescia and Bruges. In the UK the Councils of Manchester, Edinburgh, Renfrewshire, Norwich, Fife and Hebden Royd have passed resolutions. Other UK Councils and towns and cities worldwide are considering the matter shortly. (3)
At present 35 states have now ratified this Treaty – Paraguay being the latest last week. The Republic of Ireland are also on the verge of ratifying the Treaty after it was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. When 50 states have ratified the Treaty it becomes a part of international law. This is expected to take place later this year.
The towns, cities and counties who have passed resolutions come from UN member states who have opposed the development of the multilateral TPNW. These include all the existing Nuclear Weapon States, all members of NATO and states under the nuclear weapon security arrangements of other countries, like Australia and Japan. These towns, cities and counties have been encouraged by the Nobel Peace Laureate ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) to pass resolutions which also includes contacting their own national government to state their support for the TPNW and to encourage such governments to at the very least actively engage with this process.
This May, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference will take place at the United Nations in New York. With an ongoing crisis over the status of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme in tatters, as well as the United States and Russia abrogating from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, there has never been a more important time to restore the urgent need for nuclear weapons disarmament and restore the non-proliferation treaty regime.
This August is the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic weapon attacks. Later in the year is the 40th anniversary of the formation of the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities group. Both the Mayors for Peace and the NFLA will actively cooperate with ICAN and other civil society groups to call for the end of negative unilateral actions that encourage nuclear weapons proliferation in favour of multilateral processes that help make the world a safer place. For the ‘hibakusha’ survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks, this year the world needs to act now with the sort of urgency as the calls to deal with the ‘climate emergency’ have done. 2020 needs to be a year of transformation and real progress.
UK and Ireland NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I congratulate East Ayrshire and Oxford Councils for passing resolutions backing the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. East Ayrshire Council is also to be welcomed for passing a second resolution calling for divestment from pension funds that back companies involved in the production and assembly of nuclear weapons. This increasingly popular campaign mirrors that being taken by states bravely standing up for the call for multilateral nuclear disarmament. As we reach the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks, it remains one of the greatest scandals of international politics that states have not negotiated these weapons of mass destruction out of action. Even a limited nuclear war would greatly exacerbate climate change and have a catastrophic effect on the environment and humanity. 2020 needs to be a time for real change and enhanced moves for disarmament, not of negative unilateral actions that 2019 became.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) East Ayrshire back nuclear weapons ban, Cumnock Chronicle, 17th January
(2) Ban Nukes Call by Oxford Council, news release by Councillor John Tanner, 28th January.
(3) ICAN Cities Appeal list of signatories