At 12.00pm on Saturday 26th September, a small gathering assembled online to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Moved online as a result of the increasing risks posed by Covid-19, this live-stream saw words from politicians, faith leaders, and campaigners, as well as music and presentations.
“We did struggle with this decision – it’s so important we mark this day and make it clear that for everyone’s safety we strongly believe that this government should support the 2017 UN Treaty to ban nuclear weapons – but at this time we also have to consider everyone’s safety from the point of view of the spread of the Covid virus.” said Leeds CND member and national CND chair Dave Webb.
As a part of the 75 years is enough campaign, attendees called on the British government to sign and ratify the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, banning nuclear weapons once and for all.
Cllr Ann Forsaith, of the Green Party, commented “Mankind cannot uninvent the nuclear bomb, but we can choose to rid the world of the greatest military threat to the human species and the survival of the planet, ever created. So many people have worked for decades to rid the world of all nuclear and other weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction. I am very pleased to be supporting the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.”
As a nuclear-free zone, Leeds has a great history as a city of peace, well evidenced in the growing demands for Leeds to join the list of global cities backing the 2017 UN Treaty, which now numbers in the hundreds from Manchester to Munich, Sydney to San Francisco.
Cllr David Blackburn, Chair of Nuclear Free Local Authorities, said “An important milestone for UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities, comes on 5th November as we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of when over 200 towns and cities like Leeds, Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff, passed resolutions declaring themselves nuclear weapons-free cities. We are planning to celebrate this milestone with our partners, the new Mayors for Peace European Chapter and the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, to consider the state of peace and security in Europe, and to call on European towns and cities to pass new resolutions supporting the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is closing in on the target of 50 ratifications, allowing it to become a core part of international law.”
Of the world’s nuclear-weapon states, the United Kingdom is the third largest spender on nuclear weapons and remains absent from the list of 81 nations which have signed the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
“With reports of China conducting nuclear tests again, and the United States considering their first tests since the 1990s, this International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, could be one of the most important. Britain must step up if its to fully play its part in avoiding any future nuclear conflict. However, the current British government is failing to lead by example.” said Member of Parliament for Leeds North East Fabian Hamilton.
At the end of the live-stream, each participant held up a sign demanding the British government sign the 2017 UN Treaty.