Newham Council agrees motion calling on the Government to work for nuclear free world

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and Newham Council have agreed a motion calling on the Government to work for global nuclear disarmament and for Newham to join the Mayors for Peace initiative in working towards a nuclear-free world.

The motion, which was discussed on Thursday by the Mayor and councillors during their first Full Council meeting held online over Zoom, noted the significant 75th anniversary in August of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during the Second World War.

It also noted that on 24 June 1982, at the second United Nations Special Session on Disarmament held in New York, Takeshi Araki, the then Mayor of Hiroshima, called for cities throughout the world to transcend national borders and work together to press for nuclear abolition. Subsequently, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki established The World Conference of Mayors for Peace through Inter-city Solidarity, now known as Mayors for Peace, composed of mayors around the world who formally expressed support for this call.

The motion, proposed by Councillor Daniel Blaney and seconded by Councillor Belgica Guana, agreed to support the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which is working towards the complete prohibition of developing, testing and using nuclear weapons. The motion also criticised the Government’s refusal to sign or ratify the treaty, which has been signed by 81 members of the United Nations.

The motion committed Mayor Fiaz to press the Government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; to affiliate to the Mayors for Peace organisation; to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing; and to find an appropriate location in Newham for a memorial tree remembering all victims of nuclear weapons.

In proposing the motion, Councillor Blaney said: “By 1950 it was estimated that 340,000 people had died as a result of the two bombs on the two cities. The United Nations has agreed the text for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Many countries have ratified it, but not our own. Newham has experienced devastation in its history, notably the bombings of the Second World War. We must support the Mayors for Peace movement and make sure the bombings are never forgotten.”

Councillor Guana said: “We have to learn the lessons of history. We must never forget. I encourage all nations to never again use such weapons.”

Mayor Fiaz said: “If nothing else the coronavirus pandemic has shown how important global cooperation is, and why we need international solutions to issues of this proportion. It also reinforces beyond doubt the need to use our precious resources for good. I am proud of the strong stance we took last year against the presence of an international arms ‘fair’ in our borough. We must end the human and financial waste of nuclear weapons and the global trade in arms. As we work to rebuild in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the slogan ‘welfare not warfare’ has never been more important. We urgently need to invest in a more peaceful, sustainable way forward.

“The devastating effects of the bombings in 1945 are sorely felt to this day. The planting of a tree and annual remembrance is very important. The threat from nuclear weapons is still with us thanks to the disturbing actions of some of our leading nations. We are at the precipice of seeing much of the hard work done to rid the world of these weapons being unravelled. The Trump administration is discussing carrying out nuclear test explosions for the first time since 1992. The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) accord, the last major arms control treaty between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers, needs to be renewed because it expires early next year. Yet we have the President of the one of the most significant nations on the planet failing to engage with that process.

“I welcome the motion put forward by Councillor Blaney as one that enables us to remember history and provides the opportunity to look beyond our borders and join others in the global mission to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction.”

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