The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) note that there are just 9 days to go before the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into force at the United Nations, becoming a new part of international nuclear policy law.
This Treaty was agreed upon in July 2017 by 122 states at the United Nations as part of a way of breathing new life into the campaign for multilateral nuclear disarmament across the world. It was also a major factor in why the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which the NFLA is a member of, received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
In October 2020, the 50th state of those who support the TPNW, Honduras, formally ratified it in their Parliament, which means it can enter into force through a 90-day implementation period – January 22nd, 2021. Amongst the states that have ratified the TPNW are Ireland, Austria, Vatican State, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa. There are now 51 states who have ratified and a further 35 states who have signed the TPNW and are in the process of ratifying it. (1)
However, there is a substantial block of states that have consistently opposed engaging with the TPNW, arguing it diverts attention from progress with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). These include existing nuclear weapon states like the UK, NATO members and states with nuclear security arrangements with such states, such as South Korea, Japan and Australia.
For those states who have opposed the TPNW, initiatives have taken place where towns, cities and county councils from around the world have shown their support with it and called on their governments to engage with it. Linked in with the ICAN Cities Appeal, there are now over 400 cities that have made such resolutions including the likes of Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Barcelona, Washington DC, Sydney, Toronto, as well as Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the UK, Manchester, Edinburgh, Renfrewshire, Fife, East Ayrshire, Oxford, Norwich, Hastings, Hebden Bridge, Shaw and Crompton and the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham have passed TPNW resolutions. (2)
The latest two UK Councils to pass resolutions are Brighton and Hove City Council (3), just before Christmas, and Leeds City Council (4), who did so yesterday. The resolutions received cross party support and keen discussion within the remote online Council Chamber. Brighton and Hove Council are a member of the Mayors for Peace and Leeds City Council is a Mayors for Peace and NFLA member.
Both resolutions welcome the TPNW and the positive role it can play in achieving global, multilateral nuclear disarmament. They also welcome the role that Mayors for Peace, ICAN and NFLA play in encouraging local government and civil society to engage in important nuclear policy discussions and enable positive change. The TPNW highlights the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, supports the hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) and others impacted by nuclear weapon tests, and provides a logical process that can bring about nuclear disarmament. It also complements the NPT as the United Nations seeks to encourage multilateral actions at a time of great instability in the world.
With the possibility of the global Covid-19 pandemic being overcome through a comprehensive vaccination programme, and a new multilateral-supporting US President coming into office, the entry into force of the TPNW can be part of a more positive and peaceful future throughout this year.
Initiator of the Leeds City Council resolution and the NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn, commented:
“I warmly welcome the cross-party support that allowed Leeds City Council to formally support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons yesterday. It is also great to see similar resolutions being passed by Brighton & Hove and many other municipalities across the world. Both Councils will be writing to the UK Government strongly encouraging it to take note of these resolutions and support multilateral approaches to bring about nuclear disarmament. With Mayors for Peace, ICAN and many other civil society groups we have created a positive coalition for change that has created a new narrative in the nuclear weapons debate. We need to continue to work together to see the 14,000 or so nuclear weapons that remain to be disarmed in the world are done so as soon as is possible and practical.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)7771 930196.
Notes to Editors:
(1) TPNW signature and ratification status
(2) Municipalities who have passed TPNW resolutions / ICAN Cities Appeal
Brighton and Hove City Council resolution supporting the TPNW passed on the 17th December 2020 –
This Council notes:
1) That any nuclear weapon detonation by accident or intent would constitute a major humanitarian catastrophe, with consequences transcending national borders and having grave implications for the health and survival of current and future generations;
2) That the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons negotiated under United Nations auspices and adopted by 122 UN Member States on 7 July 2017, will gain international legal force on January 22nd, 2021, 90 days after being signed and ratified by the first fifty governments;
3) The important security, peace-building, safety and educational roles and responsibilities of local authorities worldwide, including through ‘Nuclear Free Local Authorities’ (NFLA) and ‘Mayors for Peace’, of which Brighton and Hove City Council is a member;
4) That Mayors for Peace works with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN, 2017 Nobel Peace laureate) and other partners in over a hundred countries to encourage cities to support the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;
This Council resolves:
1) To declare its support for the obligations and full implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;
2) To call on the UK government to work for global peace in a world free of nuclear weapons by signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and working alongside other UN Member States for its full implementation;
3) To inform the Prime Minister, UN Secretary-General, Mayors for Peace and International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons of the Council’s adoption of this resolution.
4) Leeds City Council resolution supporting the TPNW passed on the 13th January 2021 –
Leeds City Council is a member of the UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) and the Hiroshima-led Mayors for Peace; both of which have been working for 4 decades to promote multilateral nuclear disarmament.
NFLA and Mayors for Peace work with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its work in encouraging over two thirds of United Nations members to agree to the International Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Council regrets that the Governments of the existing nuclear weapon states, including the UK, refuse to support the Treaty. Council fully supports the TPNW as one of the most effective ways to bring about long-term and verifiable multilateral nuclear disarmament and is pleased it will be entering into force on the 22nd January 2021.
Council therefore requests the Chief Executive writes to the Prime Minister to inform him of this resolution and urge him to take account of it. Council also requests the Chief Executive to write to ICAN to endorse their Cities Appeal supporting the TPNW.