NFLA media release, 14th January 2021

With just 9 days to go before the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Leeds and Brighton pass resolutions supporting the Treaty

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.”

For more information please contact:

Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)7771 930196.


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