Campaigners across the region are celebrating tonight a huge boost to our efforts. Just after 9.30pm Honduras became the 50th nation to ratify the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons. This means that in 90 days from today on the 22nd of January 2021 Nuclear Weapons will become illegal under international law!
The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will fully bind all the states that join it in comprehensive prohibitions and positive obligations for nuclear disarmament. The British government currently refuses to sign, but as soon as the treaty becomes international law it will find itself under greatly increased pressure to do so. Just earlier this week the US was attempting to intimidate signatories into pulling out of the treaty a clear sign that this represents a genuine threat to the nuclear status quo.
In fact, today marks the 75th anniversary of the UN and its founding Charter on 24th October 1945 and the very first resolution of the General Assembly, adopted on 24th January 1946 in London, sought to eliminate atomic weapons from national armaments. Now the world has taken one step closer to this happening.
Believing that grassroots opinion is gradually shifting the national debate on this issue, Yorkshire members and supporters of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament have begun to collect resolutions from MPs and local Councils, plus pledges of support from dozens of Councillors and faith leaders. Already more than half of Sheffield’s MPs are backing the move to convince the UK government to sign.
“This is a historic day,” said Headingley resident Prof. Dave Webb, who is Chair of both Yorkshire and National CND. “Everyone knows how catastrophic the consequences of any use or accidental detonation of these weapons would be: millions would die. By turning our back on this system of mass destruction we would be joining the growing global consensus. In addition, we would be demonstrating Britain’s commitment to international law and to the realisation of global nuclear disarmament.”
We are already experiencing the effects of the real global threats of the Covid pandemic and of climate change. Threats that the government has recognised but has been slow to tackle. Instead the UK is spending over £200 billion on a new nuclear weapons system in the strange belief that this will boost our international standing. However, the world is showing that these terrifying weapons are now illegal – not honoured.
Cities and towns would suffer the most from any nuclear weapons attack and almost 300, including many capital cities and major urban areas, have already passed resolutions to support the TPNW. In 1981 Leeds was one of the first cities to declare itself a Nuclear Free Zone – it must be time now for the city to join the growing movement and declare its support for the TPNW.
There has never been a better time to contact your MP or Councillors telling them to good news and asking for their support in ensuring a world (finally) free from the threat of nuclear weapons.