Nuclear Weapon Ban Ratified!

Nuclear Weapon Ban Ratified!

MAW celebrations as Nuclear Prohibition Treaty is ratified

MAW members will be among the millions of people delighted to know that The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which opened for signature at UN in New York on 20 September 2017, entered into force on 22 January 2021 when it was ratified by its 50th State Party. None of the nine nuclear weapon states have signed or ratified the treaty, including the UK.

Tim Devereux, MAW chair, said: “The Treaty is the first multilateral, legally-binding, instrument for nuclear disarmament to have been negotiated in 20 years. It prohibits State Parties from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring or receiving control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. It also prohibits them from using, or threatening to use, such weapons.”

Without the involvement of the nine nuclear weapon states, there is a concern the treaty risks becoming symbolic and of little practical use in the pursuit of disarmament.

However, with the introduction of TPNW we see a paradigm shift, away from the security of states and towards human centred security and to an affirmation of international humanitarian and human rights law, and this change is out there for the whole world to see. That is possibly the most important thing about it.

MAW Vice Chair Hilary Evans with banner, "Nuclear Weapons ARE BANNED"
Hilary Evans celebrating the ban

The TPNW marks the beginning of the end of the military hegemony of the nuclear-armed powers as nation after nation asserts its right to live in a world free of the threat of nuclear annihilation by deliberate act or, far more likely, a miscalculation. In time the nuclear powers may be seen as dangerous outdated anomalies.

Public displays which celebrated the Treaty – all Covid-safe – popped up all around the UK, thanks to MAW members and others. As part of the joint statement on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, several prominent Mayors recorded video messages.

While not specifically supporting the TPNW because of their own national policies, as at 1st February 2021, 8,013 cities from 165 countries were members of the organisation “Mayors for Peace” dedicated to “the attainment of lasting world peace by arousing concern among citizens of the world for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.”

How MAW supported nuclear ban Treaty celebrations across the UK

MAW sent members a five point Covid-safe action plan for celebrating the ban’s entry into force, asking them to put up posters/banners/notices in house windows, shop windows and other places easily seen by passers-by. They were also encouraged to write to MPs and local places of worship, contact local papers and radio stations and swell a Twitter storm. The feedback from members so far tells of banners, posters and notices in homes and shop windows in Abingdon, Durham, Exeter, Hastings, Leeds, Teddington and Twickenham and at the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park in London as part of a Buddhist peace celebration.

MPs were lobbied and letters and adverts published in local papers. Dozens of places of worship were contacted with the request to bring the good news to the attention of congregations and, if possible, to ring bells in celebration. We know of two churches in Kingston-upon-Thames, one in Hastings and one in Pudsey which rang bells at noon, with a Hastings member sounding a gong on his front doorstep. The Richmond-upon-Thames parish newsletter gave the treaty a mention and Twickenham parish church included it in Sunday prayer. MAW committee members sent questions to Radio 4’s Any Questions – they couldn’t have been more topical since the programme was broadcast on the very day the treaty entered into force – but, sadly, to no avail.

Revd Nagase, David Collins, at the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park, London, 22/01/21
MAW Committee member David Collins supporting the hour of prayers for peace by Revd Nagase at the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park, London, 22 January 2021

Close up of the banner:

Banner: Nuclear weapons are prohibited under international law from 22 January 2021